The price of the opioid epidemic

No penalty in the world will bring back
Michelle MacLeod to her family.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati said the Dec. 7 sentencing of Kevin Manchester, a Nashua man who pled guilty to selling lethal doses of fentanyl to MacLeod in January, was an appropriate and fair sentence.

Manchester will serve 10-40 years in prison for his role in her death.

Prosecutors said four lines of fentanyl, provided by Manchester, were cut the day McLeod died. She and another person were found unresponsive after snorting them; she was declared dead at the scene, and an autopsy showed she had died of acute fentanyl intoxication.

Agati said Manchester’s sentencing shows the issue of opioid-related deaths is being taken seriously in New Hampshire’s judicial system.

"I don’t know if this is a deterrent effect because of an individual who is already addicted and how their brain may or may not have been changed by the drugs they are using," he said, "but the deterrence that we are seeking is not just the deterrence for the individuals who are already involved in sales and already addicted, but it’s those who haven’t even touched drugs yet or those who thought this can’t be that harmful."

The sentence of Kevin Manchester is seen as a deterrence factor, with authorities hoping the stiff penalties will have a rippling impact on those who freely engage in death-dealing.

The courts are catching up with it.

This is, of course, little comfort to families who have lost loved ones during the ongoing battle against opioids.

"Kevin Manchester knew he was dealing with Russian roulette, but chose not to share his knowledge," Barbara MacLeod, Michelle’s mother, said during Manchester’s plea deal in a Nashua courtroom.

"Kevin Manchester gave no thought to the families or children that would be left broken and suffering from their loss the rest of their lives," she said. "Michelle had the dream of raising her own family taken away from her by Kevin Manchester."

The incarceration of Manchester may be long enough to save the lives of others in New Hampshire, hopefully until the end of this terrible struggle across the Northeast when those who make the decision to sell fatal doses to addicts again and again.

"That is the type of person that we want to get out of that position and off the street," Agati said.

But once that dealer is taken out of the equation, it gives those seeking recovery the tiniest of openings to get the treatment they require.