A Hopkins man was sentenced Monday to life in prison for selling fentanyl online that killed 11 people in 2016, including a University of Minnesota professor.

A jury in U.S. District Court in St. Paul convicted Aaron Broussard, 32, in late March after it heard how he started a business from his studio apartment by buying chemicals from a lab in China and selling them disguised as plant food.

In 2016, at least 16 people died or were seriously injured from overdoses after taking what they thought was an Adderall knock-off called F-4A, but was actually a mixture containing 99% pure fentanyl.

During sentencing, Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson praised the bravery of victims and their families who gave impact statements to the court. To Broussard, she said: "Your disregard for human life is terrifying."

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said, "11 lives lost. Families, friends and communities forever changed by the devastation brought on by Aaron Broussard's deadly fentanyl. Although the trauma felt by the victims can never be undone and the true cost can never be calculated, Mr. Broussard will now spend the remainder of his life behind bars."

The jury deliberated for less than a full day in March before convicting Broussard on all charges, including conspiracy and multiple counts of distribution of fentanyl resulting in bodily injury or death.

In a court filing before sentencing, defense attorney Aaron Morrison argued for a 20-year prison term, contending that Broussard "did not know he was mailing fentanyl to the victims … a product capable of inflicting near instantaneous death."

Morrison said a 20-year sentence was warranted because Broussard "deserves a chance at rehabilitation, a chance to find his way to atonement [and] is consistent with the sentencing occurring in similar cases across the country."

Prosecutors responded in their filing that a life sentence was justified.

"It is hard to imagine a more serious drug case," their filing read. "The defendant's drug trafficking activities killed at least 11 people and injured many others. What is more, the defendant has shown no remorse for his actions."

Even after Broussard learned that some people had become seriously ill, the prosecutors said, he continued to sell lethal doses to others.

"Those who died were plucked from this world unaware that they were dealing with a person who cared nothing about them and only about the profits he was making from selling drugs," the filing read. "Those who survived will live with physical and mental trauma for the rest of their lives."

Among those who did not survive was Jason Beddow, a 41-year-old award-winning agricultural economist who was found dead in his office at the University of Minnesota on April 14, 2016. His work sent him to Australia, Africa, Europe, the Far East and South America for research purposes, his online obituary read.

After hearing of Beddow's death, South African economist Hans Binswanger-Mkhize sent a note of condolence to the university that read:

"It was just a few weeks ago that Jason shepherded me from [the] airport to your campus, to the lecture, and to lovely meals. … He was such a vibrant, kind and dedicated human being and scholar with such immense potential yet to be realized."

Overdose survivor Theodore Trotman told the court in a written victim impact statement that the drug Broussard sold him left him legally blind and unable to speak.

"Before my injury, I was a university lecturer, a gifted linguist and a powerlifter," Trotman said. "I can no longer interview for positions. … I cannot accurately assess the financial impact to my life, as I was just embarking on a promising future career."

In March 2016, Broussard bought 100 grams of 4-FA from the Chinese lab Topkey Pharmaceutical Chemicals. Morrison said Broussard did not know the shipment contained fentanyl, which is lethal in a much smaller dose than an amphetamine.

In his closing argument in March, Broussard's attorney said his client believed he had found a legal loophole to sell drugs online under the guise of plant food. Morrison argued that prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Broussard's drugs were what killed the victims, suggesting they could have taken other chemicals or fentanyl bought elsewhere.

Prosecutors said Broussard continued to ignore warnings from the lab to test the drug mixture and ignored concerns from customers who questioned whether he had sent out a bad batch, including one person who contacted him after spending three days in a hospital intensive care unit.

Broussard continued to ship the drugs to more of his online customers, and many were found dead near his signature Mylar bags featuring the emblem for his business, Plant Food USA.

Star Tribune staff writer Andy Mannix contributed to this report.