MILWAUKEE -- The increase in heroin-related deaths is keeping the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office busy as prosecutors go after victims' alleged dealers. The Len Bias Law refers to the basketball star in the 80s, who died of a cocaine overdose. His supplier was ultimately held responsible for his death. While charges under the law are somewhat rare, prosecutors are seeing an increase in cases where it applies.
18-year-old Kendall Marinier and 20-year-old Keslear Davis each face one count of first degree reckless homicide as party to a crime.
"It's important to hold people accountable for the distribution of drugs that ultimately end someone else's life," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern.
That life, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern says, was Emma Lorenz. The 18-year-old is among the 340 people in Milwaukee County who fell victim to drugs in 2016.
Court documents show Lorenz died of a heroin overdose. Police say Marinier admitted to buying heroin with Lorenz. Davis allegedly gave the two young women a ride to the location of the drug deal.
Lorenz' parents believe their daughter was easy prey.
"Emma didn't know anything. She didn't know what to do, how to do it. She was never introduced to any of this sort of thing prior to Kendall," said Julie Lorenz, Emma's mother.
The case is one of a growing number of drug-related deaths where the DA has applied the Len Bias Law. Last year, Lovern says his office prosecuted a couple dozen this year. They're already handling 50 open investigations.
"We're certainly seeing an increase in the use of this charge over the last five years. No question about it," said Lovern.
Lovern hopes the threat of punishment for anyone connected to an overdose death ultimately helps stop the opioid abuse crisis.
"It's essential to provide that additional level of deterrence and punishment if that's the case from a public safety standpoint," said Lovern.
As for the person or people who supplied the heroin to Lorenz, the DA's office says that part of the investigation is still ongoing.
Lorenz says often times the original source of a drug begins out of state.