A 30-year-old woman known on the streets as “Ice” has been charged with a fourth murder in a heroin overdose death and is a suspect in a fifth.
Beverly N. Burrell appeared in Hennepin County District Court on Monday on the latest charge, but her $1 million bail didn’t change, nor did she enter a plea. She has been in custody since she was charged over the summer in the three deaths.
The latest charge comes in the death of an unidentified man at a sober house in Columbia Heights on April 3. The man was found in a bathroom unresponsive with a needle and silver spoon with burnt residue on it, evidence consistent with heroin use, according to the complaint. The medical examiner found the cause of death to be ingestion of heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that boosts the heroin and is nearly 50 times as strong.
Burrell already was set for trial in front of Hennepin County Judge Paul Scoggin on Jan. 17 in the deaths of Luke Ronnei, 20, of Chanhassen; Max Tillitt, 21, of Eden Prairie; and Nick Petrick, 29, of New Prague. The men died in the past couple of years. Some of the heroin they ingested was laced with fentanyl, some with methamphetamine.
In court Monday, Burrell told Judge Tanya Bransford that she and her attorney, Craig Cascarano, who was not present, had been expecting the additional charge. Burrell did not mention a possible charge from the fifth death.
Bransford, noting that the pending charges were serious but that Burrell’s prior criminal record was limited to driving while under the influence and a theft charge, declined to increase the bail. Prosecutors didn’t ask for an increase.
The defendant, petite with blond cornrows, was engaged and polite during her brief court appearance.
The fifth — so far uncharged — death stemmed from a sale in Minneapolis the same day, April 2, that Burrell is accused of selling heroin to the man in the Columbia Heights sober house. The fifth victim, who died in Sherburne County, was a known heroin addict, the charges said.
The charges claim Burrell knowingly sold heroin enhanced with fentanyl and/or methamphetamine.
She was charged with third-degree murder and several drug-related charges in connection with the deaths of the young men.
She is also charged with third-degree murder in the death of the latest victim. The charge is a felony with a potential 25-year sentence.
In a telephone interview after the hearing, Cascarano said prosecutors are going to have to show that, among other things, the heroin that killed the victims was the heroin they bought from Burrell, which won’t be easy. “Obviously, if you’re an addict, you don’t rely on one source,” he said.
Although the latest charge was from an Anoka County death, prosecutors claim the victim bought the heroin in Minneapolis.