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Maplewood woman sentenced to more than 14 years in opioid overdose deaths

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Beverly Nicole Burrell
Beverly Nicole Burrell has been found guilty of third-degree murder for selling heroin to a 20-year-old man who died of an overdose last year.
Hennepin County Sheriff

Updated 7:46 p.m. | Posted 3:30 p.m.

A judge Thursday sentenced a 31-year-old Maplewood woman to more than 14 years in prison in the opioid overdose deaths of two men. 

Beverly Burrell was convicted of third-degree murder for selling heroin to Luke Ronnei and Max Tillitt. They both overdosed and died from the drug. 

Before she was sentenced, Burrell told the court that she won't sell drugs any more.

"I'm asking for another chance because I am a good person, I am not a monster," said Burrell. "I do have a heart and I do care about my society. Yes, I made the wrong choice, but I can guarantee that that choice will not be made again."

Eight victim impact statements were read aloud in court or delivered in person. They included Max Tillitt's father Stephen, and Luke Ronnei's parents, David and Colleen.

David Ronnei said in the wake of his son's death he developed bladder cancer, which he and his counselors believe was brought on by stress. 

Colleen Ronnei said she wanted Burrell's sentence to discourage others from selling heroin.

  "The only thing we can do now is to have something good come from all this," she said. "My hope in terms of Luke is that his tragic death isn't repeated again and again, especially by the actions of the person who sold him the drugs that killed him. My plan is to continue to bring awareness and progress to an issue that is devastating lives everyday."

Tillitt's father Stephen read a letter to the court from Max's younger brother Riley, who asked for a lenient sentence.

"I urge this not because I've forgiven Ms. Burrell and not because it's what Max would have wanted — although it is I think — what he would have wanted," the letter read. "But because the only way for us to save other people like Max — which is the ultimate goal here, let us not forget, is to recognize that incarceration is not the answer to a public health crisis."

Stephen Tillitt said he preferred that Burrell's sentences be concurrent, meaning they would be served at the same time instead of one after the other.

Burrell could have received a 17-year sentence. Her defense lawyer argued for a more lenient sentence, arguing it was a crime that took two people, including the person who chose to buy and take the drugs. 

In the end, Judge Paul Scoggin told Burrell that he wasn't there to "wag his finger" at her. But he said he found it curious that given Burrell's tough upbringing and experience seeing the dark side of drug addiction in her own family, she would then contribute to the problem by selling it to other people.

Members of Burrell's family, including her 18-year-old son and her mother, were in the courtroom but didn't address the court. Burrell's mother said later that she wanted everyone to know her daughter is a good person and a good mother.

Burrell still faces murder charges in the overdose deaths of three other men. The next trial is scheduled to start in December.