Cloquet woman fights for change after her daughter’s fatal overdose

Carter Galo pleaded guilty to the third-degree murder charge in March.
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 2:12 PM CDT
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VIRGINIA, MN. (Northern News Now) - A Proctor man with a history of drug convictions was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison Monday for selling a Cloquet woman the drugs that lead to her death.

Judge Robert Friday handed down that third-degree murder sentence to Carter Galo, 26.

In January 2022, Korryn Sorenson, 22, and her husband bought drugs from Galo.

According to court documents, Korryn took those drugs and ended up dying two days later.

Medical examiners say she had a mix of etizolam and fentanyl in her system.

This was not Galo’s first drug case. He also had two misdemeanor convictions dating back to 2016. Then in 2019, Duluth Police raided his home and found drugs, body armor, and guns.

He was sentenced to three years probation for that 2019 crime, which he was still serving when he sold Korryn the drugs that led to her death.

“To have sold, been caught and convicted and then return to sale eviscerates or demonstrates an intent to profit from the suffering from others,” Judge Friday said in court Monday.

Galo pleaded guilty to the third-degree murder charge in March.

He appeared virtually in court Monday because he is already being held at a prison in St. Cloud for violating his probation.

Northern News Now sat down with Korryn’s family.

Her mother, Kerrie Sorenson, said Korryn was a trend setter and found joy in every bit of her life.

Kerrie Sorenson flips through photos of her late daughter, Korryn.
Kerrie Sorenson flips through photos of her late daughter, Korryn.(Northern News Now)

“She played hockey, she loved horseback riding, she was a very good drawer, a very good drawer,” Kerrie said.

Her brother, Konner, said she lit up a room.

“She was honestly a real bright light and goofy, always interesting and more of a wild card,” he said.

Korryn Sorenson smiles in a photograph displayed on her mother's bookshelf.
Korryn Sorenson smiles in a photograph displayed on her mother's bookshelf.(Northern News Now)

Family says Korryn was around 16 years old when she started battling substance abuse disorder.

“I know she didn’t want that life ... but the drugs kind of, whatever those things she was doing, they really have a hold over people and it’s terrible,” Konner said. “Ahe worked her [expletive] off. She got clean for a while, but it kind of goes to show that if you don’t stay with a good group to keep you in those positive tendencies you can slip back into those bad ones really easily.”

More than a year later, Korynn’s family still feels the pain of losing their daughter and sister. Now, they hope to see changes when it comes to holding re-offenders like Galo accountable.

“I don’t understand how it’s a revolving door ... This guy’s got a history of those for how long going back and yet it was just as easy for him to continue doing what he was doing,” Konner said. “What are they going to do for these people who are killing people every time they’re out because they want to make a quick dollar? Nothing’s changing. It’s just reoccurring.”

“It’s gotta be harsh,” Kerrie said. “It can’t be, ‘ok we’re going to give you a ticket this time.’ You catch them again, they’re going to treatment, not for 30 days. They’re going to treatment for a year. They’re going to go so they can be productive members of our society.”

Northern News Now also reached out to the St. Louis County court system for this story, hoping to learn more about the rate at which convicted drug dealers reoffend and what should be done to stop that from happening.

They declined to be interview for this report, saying they aren’t able to comment within a story that cites a specific case.

They did offer to do an interview in May, which happens to be National Drug Court Month.

St. Louis County has its own Drug Court, which is a five-phase program meant to reduce reoffending rates.

It’s a treatment-based approach, coupled with intensive supervision and judicial oversight to help people stay sober.

Meanwhile, local law enforcement says the state of Minnesota has the right penalties in place for drug offenders, but in some cases, they believe they need to be enforced more often.

The Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force is responsible for arresting people who prey on those who have substance abuse disorders.

They serve St. Louis, Carlton, and Lake counties, along with the City of Superior.

Lt. Chad Nagorski leads the team.

He says very rarely do they get someone with a large amount of narcotics who’s a first time offender.

While Nagorski recognizes drug cases are full of circumstantial evidence and there are checks and balances within the court system for a reason, he knows many people his task force deals with are violent.

“I think that we have to stop focusing on the fact that they’re drug offenders and focus on the fact that they’re victimizing people and killing people,” Nagorski said. “I think we wouldn’t have a problem with the fact that we’re putting someone in prison for shooting somebody why do we have a problem putting people in prison for giving someone a substance that they die from.”

Nagorski says his department has a good relationship with the St. Louis County Attorney’s office and through continued communication they can hold some of these violent offenders accountable.

He added it wasn’t long ago the drugs on the street weren’t quite as potent, but with fentanyl coming on the scene, it’s made drug use more deadly.

For example, in 2017, in the Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force’s coverage area, they reported 12 overdose deaths.

Already in 2023, Nagorski says there have been 10 fatal overdoses and they’re projecting to end 2023 with 76.

He says fentanyl is a big driver here, since just two milligrams can kill a person.

To put that in perspective, the LSVOTF recently arrested someone they called a prolific drug dealer, who police say had 300 grams of fentanyl on him.

That’s enough to kill 150,000 people.

Nagorski says another difficult part of prosecuting these fatal drug cases is each overdose death is investigated like a homicide, so it takes a lot of resources.

While he knows they can’t arrest their way out of a drug problem, Nagorski believe through enforcement, education, and treatment they can start to drive these numbers down.

Here is a look at how fatal overdose numbers have trended in the LSVOTF coverage area in the last several years:

A look at how fatal overdose numbers have trended according to statistics from the Lake...
A look at how fatal overdose numbers have trended according to statistics from the Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force.(Northern News Now)

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