The destruction that drug addiction brings to users, dealers and their families shook a Tazewell County courtroom Thursday, when one East Peoria resident was sentenced for killing another with heroin laced with another deadly drug.
Karen McIntyre, 32, said her arrest for the December 2015 death of Daniel Vickers, 46, “probably saved my life” from the fate of her mother and brother, who she said died of heroin overdoses.
She shuddered when she heard she’ll spend it in prison over at least the next 12 years, what remains of the maximum 18-year term she received for drug-induced homicide.
“These are difficult cases, but this court is getting tired of them,” Circuit Judge Steven Kouri said in McIntyre’s sentencing hearing. “The message must go out, if you continue to deal (heroin), you’re going to pay a stiff price.”
An undercover police detective testified that McIntyre twice sold him heroin a month after Vickers’s death.
Death by heroin “blows a hole in the hearts of those left behind, and it’s never repaired,” Kouri said.
Vickers’s wife and son requested the maximum sentence in emotion-choked statements that recalled Vickers’ deep family devotion, humor, plans to spoil yet-to-be-born grandchildren, and the addiction he fought for years.
McIntyre called Vickers her friend, though she acknowledged they shared only their addictions and heroin purchases in common.
“I got heroin so I wouldn’t be sick” from withdrawal symptoms, she said.
Vickers’ wife, a registered nurse, said McIntyre preyed on him.
“You knew when he was going into rehab and was trying to get clean,” Angela Vickers told her. “You were his dealer.”
Joshua Vickers called McIntyre “despicable” for providing “the dark poison” that killed his father. Kouri heard that another family member, distraught with grief, attempted suicide.
Defense attorney Gary Morris argued that, “All drug addicts are drug dealers” when, as McIntyre and Vickers did, they work together to feed their addictions.
When she pleaded guilty to the Class X felony last May, McIntyre acknowledged she knew the heroin she obtained from a Peoria dealer was cut with fentanyl, an artificial opioid that in equal amounts is far more powerful than morphine.
The dose that Vickers paid $75 for killed him in his home on Dec. 4, 2015. McIntyre was charged three months later.
She’ll be required to serve 75 percent of the 18-year term, the maximum that was set in her plea agreement, and will be given credit for the 477 days she’s spent in custody since her arrest.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin