‘Heroin apocalypse’: Vassar man gets 30 years for dealing in Reese

Caleb Hills in Tuscola County Circuit Court. (Photo by John Cook)

A 29-year-old Vassar man was sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for planning to unleash what Tuscola County Prosecutors called an area “heroin apocalypse” that essentially ended before it began with the fatal drug overdose of his girlfriend.

Tuscola County Circuit Court Judge Amy Grace Gierhart sentenced Caleb Hills to 15-30 years in prison for conspiring and possessing with intent to deliver roughly a pound of heroin with an estimated street value of up to $50,000.

Hills had faced up to life in prison on a third charge — delivery of a controlled substance causing death – in connection with the fatal drug overdose of his girlfriend, Amanda Byrd. That charge was dropped as part of a plea deal with Tuscola County prosecutors. Hills and Byrd conspired to facilitate the sale of a $50,000 brick of heroin last Thanksgiving from a Reese apartment. However, just a few hours into the operation, Byrd died after snorting heroin. Emotions were high with family and friends of both Hills and Byrd in the courtroom during sentencing Wednesday.

“I can only ask that both families here consider how to put the anger and upset arising out of this horrible tragedy to some positive use,” Gierhart said during proceedings. “Talk to parents, talk to kids, talk to community providers about treatment, share your experiences, if you reach just one kid who’s thinking about using this junk or help one parent who needs to understand the importance of valuable treatment.

“What’s done is done, but please try to influence this epidemic going forward,” Gierhart said. “The evil here is heroin.” (Read more)

(This story originally appeared in the Sept. 3, 2016 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read in its entirety here.)

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