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A price to be paid for overdose deaths

Suspect clears involuntary manslaughter charge
Posted: 5:28 PM, Jul 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-26 19:01:02-04

She has grown accustomed to covering this sacred ground at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Glen Burnie ever since 27-year-old Chris King died from an overdose 18 months ago, and Donna King says she still lives with the pain of her son’s death each and every day.

"I come two days a week... sometimes three, and this is where I come to spend time with my son," said King, "It's been hard on the family.  He has a six-year-old child that we're raising right now, but I want to make sure that the families don't go through what we go through."
    
State prosecutors sought an involuntary manslaughter charge against King's supplier, 38-year-old Gabriel DelValle, and tests suggested what he presented to be heroin turned out to be 100 percent fentanyl with 50 times the potency.
    
Ultimately, when the sentencing guidelines and charges came under scrutiny, the suspect could only be convicted of drug distribution.

"He did get eight years, five years’ probation, which I don't feel is enough,” said King, “I don't have my son here.  He's gone."

"As far as the record is concerned and anybody can Google it and look it up, his highest penalty and highest charge on record will go down as 'distributing drugs',” said Louis King, Jr., Chris’ brother, “It's very, very sad."
    
With good behavior, DelValle could be out of prison in two years.
    
Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams says this case is just a stepping stone towards convicting similar dealers in the future.

"Without taking that opportunity and bringing that case into a trial posture, we can never go back and demonstrate to the legislature where there is a shortcoming in the law, and we're going to try to build those cases," said Adams.

While it may be a step in the right direction, that rings hollow for Donna King, whose son has become yet another casualty in the war on opioid addiction, yet no one will have to pay for it.

"He, in court, apologized.  It should have been him.  Well, yes, it should have been him.  I believe in an eye for an eye,” said King, “I believe that it's got to be stiffer laws to take these drug dealers down.  He had a rap sheet that sent someone to University and nothing's ever done with these people."