Channel 9 has covered the dangers and heartbreak of opioids for years.
Now, Otequise Miller, of Concord, will spend 20 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors said he sold crystal meth and heroin across Mecklenburg and other nearby counties from 2015 until officers arrested him in 2018.
Miller previously admitted he sold heroin to a woman in December 2017, who later died from a drug overdose.
Court documents had identified that victim only as “WM” until Friday.
“This is my daughter Whitney,” said Theresa Thomas McGirt.
Whitney McGirt’s friends and family urged a judge to consider a stronger sentence for Miller, noting he continued to sell drugs even after she died.
“If her death could save one family or one life then she didn’t die in vain. There’s just so much love and emptiness,” Thomas McGirt said.
Kim Thomas, a family friend, read a heartfelt letter to the defendant in court, saying one day they hope they can forgive him.
“I think he needed to hear how his actions impacted this family,” she said.
The judge said that addiction is a serious issue and drug dealers pass poisonous desire on to others.
“He has five children. How would you like for somebody to sell that to your child?” Thomas McGirt said.
The family wants to use its story to save a life and start a support group for other families in McGirt’s hometown of Kannapolis.
The U.S. Senate recently approved an extension of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s temporary order to ban all fentanyl-related substances through May 2021.
The order would have expired Feb. 6.
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