By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s considered a first of its kind case in the state: a woman charged with killing five men with her fentanyl-laced heroin.

Beverly Burrell went on trial for two of those deaths Tuesday. One family told a judge they were certain where the drugs that killed their son came from. It’s been 17 months since their son Luke died 30 days shy of his 21st birthday.

“Reliving that most horrible day — it’s really hard,” Colleen Ronnei said.

It’s a  tragedy Colleen and Dave Ronnei’s both testified in court to doing everything in their power to prevent.

“I don’t think anyone can understand what it’s like to give testimony in your own son’s murder trial. It’s something no parent should ever have to go through,” Dave Ronnei said.

They are feelings shared by the family of Max Tillitt, their 21-year-old son started using heroin in high school after a football injury.

“He struggled with depression after a concussion and that’s when his story changed,” Steve Tillitt said.

They are two of five men who died in seven months’ time. Prosecutors claim they all bought their lethal dose of heroin from Beverly Burrell, who they called “ICE.” But her defense attorney argued it’s possible they bought their drugs elsewhere, telling a judge it’s common for addicts to have more than one dealer in case they ran out.

“I was very closely monitoring Luke’s interaction and he had one single source,” Colleen Ronnei said.

Witnesses on the stand testified that ICE was never dry, including Luke’s own mom who trailed her son on a few different drug buys. She even tried to turn Burrell in right after Max Tillitt died — three months before her own son did.

“I don’t see a sense of remorse or sadness for what she’s done to so many people,” Colleen said. “I’m really hoping that we come to a point we’ll see some justice for our sons. It’s been a long journey.”

Burrell’s trial is expected to wrap up Thursday. If convicted, she faces 25 years in prison for each death. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told me he doesn’t want her to see the light of day again.

But, it will be up to Judge Paul Scoggin to decide whether or not to run her sentences consecutively.

It’s also expected Burrell will be tried with the three other deaths in the coming months.

Liz Collin

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