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Marathon County sees rise in heroin-related deaths


WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - It was not all that long ago when Wisconsin’s only heroin deaths were in the Milwaukee area.

But Marathon County – where Wausau is located – has had 3 confirmed deaths this year from overdoses of heroin. And lab results are pending in a 4th case.

County medical examiner John Larson said there were also three heroin deaths in 2011 – and he could only remember two other such deaths in 26 years.

Monday, Marathon County Circuit Judge Mike Moran said he refused to write off heroin as a sign of the times, when he gave a 15-year prison sentence to a man convicted on seven charges related to heroin and cocaine, plus a count of bail jumping. 27-year-old Tyshun Meeks of Chicago pleaded no contest to the 8 charges. And he asked that a jury try him on his two remaining charges of reckless homicide and delivering heroin.

The next hearing in that case is set for December 21st.

Judge Moran said he was especially troubled to see that Meeks kept selling heroin after Selves died. Prosecutor Lance Leonhart said the death was actually good for Meeks’ business – because it showed how potent the drug was.

Defense lawyer Shawn Paul wanted only probation for Meeks, saying it was necessary for him to sell drugs because his 7th-grade education gave him few options to make a living.

Judge Moran disagreed, saying that Meeks’ business acumen showed that he could have succeeded in other lines of work.