Michigan City man appealing life sentence in heroin case

2012-02-07T19:15:00Z Michigan City man appealing life sentence in heroin caseBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
February 07, 2012 7:15 pm  • 

A Michigan City man convicted of heroin trafficking is appealing his life sentence, federal court records show.

Ronald Zitt was sentenced last week to life in prison for distributing 1 to 3 kilograms of heroin. In exchange for personal amounts of heroin, Zitt recruited addicts to drive to Chicago multiple times each week for drug buys, court records state.

He also was accused of being responsible for the 2008 death of Michigan City resident Travis O'Brien, who died after injecting heroin provided by Zitt.

O'Brien's wife found the 36-year-old unconscious and called Zitt, who told her not to call 911 until after he got there. About 20 minutes went by with Zitt removing the needle from O'Brien's arm and cleaning the scene before he told O'Brien's wife she could call paramedics. By the time help arrived, O'Brien was dead.

At sentencing, Zitt's attorney, Adam Tavitas, said evidence showed O'Brien had several drugs in his system at the time of his death, and that it was not clear that Zitt's heroin killed O'Brien.

Judge Rudy Lozano agreed, but said Zitt's history of dealing, alleged mixing of rat poison into some of his heroin and lack of remorse warranted a life sentence.

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