BRATTLEBORO — With time served, a man who sold a fatal dose of heroin and fentanyl to Connor Rusin, 25, of Wilmington, could be out of jail within four months.
On Friday afternoon, Dalton Kissell, 30, formerly of Westminster, was sentenced to 40 months to 12 years in jail. He has been in custody since Sept. 13, 2018.
Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver told Windham Superior Court Judge John Treadwell the agreement was reached in consultation with Connor’s mother, Cheryl Rusin.
“Cheryl has been with us every step of the way and has been a remarkable strength in the face of this huge loss,” said Shriver, adding the agreement “certainly can’t make up for the unfathomable loss that Cheryl and her family have, but we do feel that the sentence is just.”
At just before 10 p.m. on June 12, 2018, the Vermont State Police responded to a residence on Boyd Hill Road in Wilmington for a reported drug overdose. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of Rusin’s death to be acute intoxication of heroin and fentanyl. Investigators concluded that Rusin had purchased the drug from Kissell and Neal Bolster, then 28, of Hinsdale, N.H.
Bolster and his girlfriend, Aaliyah Jacobs, 19, were shot and killed in Hinsdale on April 11, 2019, by Derrick Shippee, 28, of Vernon, who was found dead from an overdose a day later in a junkyard in Vernon.
Rusin was found dead by his mother, who told police he had struggled with opioids since 2014.
During the sentencing, Cheryl Rusin read a letter to the court from Rusin’s three siblings, stating their “little brother ... lit up every room ... he made people feel love and protected.”
Reading from the letter, Rusin said her son was a very talented athlete and a hard worker, saying he was “the glue, the heart and the soul” of the family.
Connor Rusin’s siblings are still feeling shock, disbelief and despair over their brother’s death, she read, but mostly they are feeling anger and sadness that he was taken from them. Speaking for herself, Cheryl Rusin said her son was honorable, fun and compassionate.
“He was creative, hardworking ... he mastered everything that he touched,” she said, adding “He was my best friend.”
Rusin said there can never be a consequence great enough for the trail of destruction left behind by the sale of the drug to her son.
“Our family has paid the ultimate price. All of our heartache and pain we have decided to give to you, Dalton. It is for you to carry now. You will not hurt my family anymore.”
Rusin also said the sentencing represents justice “to the families who have lost a loved one to an overdose with no investigation.”
When it was his turn to speak, Kissell struggled through tears to express his remorse
“I just feel so bad,” he said, sobbing. “I couldn’t imagine being a parent and losing my child. As a father, it kills me thinking about it.”
He said Rusin was his good friend.
“Connor was probably one of, if not, the nicest person, I ever knew,” he said. “It wasn’t my intention to ever harm him at all.”
Kissell said he has struggled with addiction as well.
“It’s terrible because I have lost many, many friends and so many people to this drug,” Kissell said. “I am honestly ashamed of myself.”
He also said he wished there was something he could do for Connor’s family that could ease the pain of their loss.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do. Nothing is ever going to bring him back.”
Kissell said the only real thing he can do now is try to stay clean and “try to preach to other people about how addictive and how terrible this drug is ...”