Coroner starts ruling heroin overdose deaths as homicides

AP News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2016 3:25 PM

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — An epidemic of fatal heroin overdoses has prompted a county coroner in Pennsylvania to start ruling heroin overdose deaths as homicides.

Lycoming County Charles Kiessling Jr. says marking heroin overdose deaths as accidental was standard practice. But he says he's now marking that as homicides because he's trying to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic.

He tells The (Sunbury) Daily Item (bit.ly/22L6gej) that drug dealers are murderers.

Kiessling has ruled one overdose death in 2016 as a homicide, with four others pending the results of toxicology testing.

Pennsylvania law allows for a charge of drug delivery resulting in death, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 40 years in prison. But Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt says such cases are difficult to prove.

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Information from: The Daily Item, http://www.dailyitem.com