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DIGGING DEEPER: Family reacts to sentence of man who caused overdose deaths

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TUCSON (KVOA) - A man who sold drugs to some of his friends is now in prison.

It's a Digging Deeper report we've been following for two years.

Julian Tapia was recently sentenced to two and a half years behind bars for his role in the deaths of James Bohard Senior and his 26-year-old son.

For Patricia Bohard, the Christmas season brings sad memories of when her oldest son James Jr. died from a fentanyl overdose along with her former husband her youngest son also overdosed and survived.

"Even though what they were doing was wrong, they didn't deserve to die over it," Bohard said.

The man who confessed to supplying the counterfeit oxycodone laced with fentanyl is spending Christmas behind bars. Julian Tapia was sentenced to two and a half years for negligent homicide.

Bohard told the Digging Deeper Team, "Everybody says, 'Don't you think he should have gotten more?' I go, 'Of course. Everybody is going to think that but I go he's going to have to carry this for the rest of his life.'"

In October, Tapia wiped tears from his eyes before the judge handed down the sentence.

He also told the judge, "Your honor it was never my intention to harm anyone.  It was never my intention to take anyone's lives.  It's never been in my nature to be like that.  It breaks my heart dearly I'm sorry to all of you guys from the bottom of my heart."

Bohard and her son who survived the overdose weren't in court due to COVID-19 restrictions but they were listening on the phone.  

"If you're sorry, I will take the apology," she said. "It's not going to change anything."

Meaning it won't bring the people who died back.

So, the change is that there is now accountability for drug dealers who cause overdose deaths.

Tucson Police Department Capt. John Leavitt heads the Counter Narcotics Alliance.

Just weeks after the deaths of Bohard Sr. and Junior in 2017 they began to investigate overdose deaths and hold the dealers accountable.  

"The fact that was one of the first, and we got prison as an outcome for the person who provided the drugs to me was a positive thing," Leavitt said. "A message to the community that if you deal drugs and someone is harmed by them you are going to go to prison."

That's the positive that came out of a tragic situation, Bohard said.

"If they had to lose their life, we at least have to make some kind of difference.  They were too young and they were actually good people.  There was no sense in this happening," she said. "We have to help somehow in the future for other people."

Bohard said she misses her oldest son every day.  But she's thankful she still has her younger son.

She urged people who have addiction problems to seek help.

For more information, visit pimahelpline.org.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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