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Pa. Coroner: Heroin Overdose Deaths Are Homicides

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - An epidemic of fatal heroin overdoses has prompted a county coroner in central Pennsylvania to start ruling heroin overdose deaths as homicides.

Lycoming County Charles Kiessling Jr. had been marking heroin overdose deaths as accidental, which he called standard practice, but says he's trying to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic.

He tells The (Sunbury ) Daily Item that drug dealers are murderers.

Kiessling has ruled one overdose death in 2016 as homicide, with four others pending the results of toxicology testing.

Pennsylvania law allows for a charge of drug delivery resulting in death. But Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt says such cases are difficult to prove.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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