Convicted drug dealer sentencing brings closure to families

CARLISLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- A Cumberland County judge sentences a convicted heroin dealer to 34 years in prison for the drug-related deaths of three people.

It was an unprecedented sentence that is meant to send a message to dealers who fuel the heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.

Three Pennsylvania families came together at the Cumberland County Courthouse, united in a similar tragedy.

Parent Mayling Bittner said "my daughter Lorraine Avery was overdosed."

Parent Patrick Sullivan said "we lost Michael, my son, 20 years old, May of '15, to heroin."

Mother Deborah Tubbs said "she was only 20, just like the other two, when she was taken away."

Convicted drug dealer Corey Palson received an unprecedented 34 to 68 year sentence for his connection to those three deaths.

Cumberland County district attorney David Freed said "you have a for-profit drug dealer, a distributor, distributing through other people, who was as remorseless and unrepentant as any defendant that I've seen in my experience as a prosecutor."

"This case is a landmark case in this state, and that's what we wanted, there needs to be something to deter the profitable sale of heroin in Pennsylvania," Sullivan said.

Officials and law enforcement gathered from several communities to show their commitment to an enhanced Cumberland County Drug Task Force. The goal is to prevent more stories like these.

"So with these officers, when they do and they go after some of the career dealers and hit them with these higher sentences, that's going to be a deterrent to start working in favor of this epidemic to cure it and get rid of it in the state of Pennsylvania," Sullivan said.

Corey Palson's sentencing may send a message to other dealers and bring justice to the families of the victims.

"We have some closure today, and I'm happy about that, but we have to live the rest of our lives without our children," Bittner said.

"Anything that was said or done today will never bring our children back, but we did get some justice, for Mike, Rainey and Nicole. That's what we really wanted, was justice for them," Tubbs said.

"There is no way, that we could have completed this case successfully without the unprecedented support that we've had from the families of these victims. It's that kind of support that keeps them alive in everyone's memories," Freed said.