Drug dealer Cameron Jermaine Payne knew his pills may have contained fentanyl, but he sold them anyway on Oct. 16, 2020, to a former high school classmate.
The next day, that customer was found dead of an overdose.
"I felt a numb feeling, a feeling I can't explain," Payne later recalled.
But he kept on selling, making enough to buy a pet monkey, jewelry and guns before his arrest in 2021. He posted photos and videos of himself on Snapchat flashing around the money and dancing with guns.
Now, Payne is going to prison for second-degree murder.
A judge on Friday ordered Payne, 21, of Oklahoma City, to serve 30 years.
"You knew what you were doing," Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai said at his sentencing Friday before a packed courtroom. "You knew the risks involved."
The judge rejected a defense request for a 10-year sentence, saying she had to protect society.
The outcome is another example of the impact of the fentanyl crisis on society.
The powerful synthetic opioid — often used to make counterfeit pills — is blamed for thousands of deaths in the United States each year.
Murder victim Kyle Ward, a University of Central Oklahoma student, thought he was buying oxycodone, according to evidence in the case. He was 20.
An Edmond police detective testified at the sentencing that Mexican cartels use fentanyl to make counterfeit pills that wind up in Oklahoma because it is cheaper and more addictive.
"They're going to increase their client base, if they don't kill them," the detective, Mason Long, told the judge.
Payne and the victim knew each other from Edmond Santa Fe High School. Police learned from the victim's Snapchat account that Payne had sold him pills.
Friends found Ward in the bedroom of his Edmond home when he didn't show up for his UPS job. He died of fentanyl poisoning.
"It was an otherwise perfect fall day," his father, Lance Ward, told the judge.
His parents had been aware of his struggles with drugs and alcohol. The father had warned him five months before that he was playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with drugs.
He had seemed appropriately remorseful, as any addict would, the father recalled.
Payne pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in September. However, he said Friday in an apology to the victim's parents that he "may" have had a role in the death.
"I wasn't raised this way," he said. "I just pray that you find the kindness in your heart to forgive me."
Payne was selling drugs even though a brother, Jason Payne, died in 2018 of a fentanyl pill overdose. "I understand your pain," he told Ward's parents.
He admitted in a written statement for a presentence report that he sold Ward six pills for $100. "I knew there was a chance that the pills may have contained 'fent,' but the effect I had when I took them made me feel normally relaxed," he wrote.
Police learned from his Snapchat account that he had warned some customers.
He told one that a real oxycodone pill cost $50 and the "pressed" ones were $8.
"But them been killin people," he wrote. "I don't recommend them but I be tellin people about them."
He also had complained to a supplier about getting fentanyl pills, according to the evidence. He told the supplier he wasn't "tripping" because he knew they still were going to sell.
"He has a huge heart," his father, Corey Payne, told the judge. "He's really a good kid."
District Attorney David Prater called on the judge to send a clear message to other greedy drug dealers.
"Let's get him off the streets and make sure he doesn't kill anybody else," the prosecutor said.
"This was about greed and street cred and slinging dope and showing your guns off," he also said.
Payne also pleaded guilty in September to illegal possession of a firearm. Police found a handgun during a traffic stop when he was arrested in 2021. He was prohibited from being around guns because of his involvement in a burglary when he was a juvenile.
The judge gave him 10 years in prison for the firearms offense but allowed him to serve that punishment at the same time as the murder sentence.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoman ordered to prison for fatal fentanyl overdose of classmate