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A former Waukesha man was sentenced to four years in prison about two months after he admitted to providing a friend and colleague with the heroin that ultimately killed her earlier this year.

Derek Engberg, 25, was sentenced on Oct. 28 in Waukesha County Circuit Court. Judge Lloyd Carter presided over the hearing.

Carter found Engberg guilty of second-degree reckless homicide in late August for his role in the death of 49-year-old Julie Bernal, whom Engberg knew from the local Walgreens where they worked.

In addition to the prison term, Carter sentenced Engberg to five years of extended supervision and ordered him to pay $7,735.88 in restitution to Bernal's mother.

A fateful night

According to a criminal complaint, Engberg and Bernal, who had four children, drove together to Milwaukee to buy heroin on Dec. 30, 2015. They injected themselves with the drug in a McDonald's bathroom there before returning to Engberg's Waukesha apartment on Bluemound Road, where they snorted more of it.

Engberg told police in the complaint that Bernal threw up outside his apartment after using the heroin, then laid down. Engberg fell asleep shortly thereafter and reportedly told police there was still a "pile" of heroin left on a table when he dozed off.

When he woke up, according to the complaint, the pile was gone and Bernal wasn't breathing. Engberg called 911 and tried to revive her before emergency personnel arrived, but couldn't.

Bernal was later pronounced dead of an opiate intoxication on Jan. 1.

'A recovering addict'

Engberg's parents and brothers wrote letters to the court asking for leniency and detailing Engberg's persistent struggle with addiction.

"(Never), in any of our wildest dreams, would anyone have expected (Engberg) to be facing what he is facing today," his parents wrote. "Please know how extremely sorry we are that someone who he was with has lost their own personal battle with addiction.

"We all love Derek very much and believe that with long-term care and quality counseling ... he can once and for all deal with his addiction demons," they continued. "He will have to learn how to live the rest of his life as a recovering addict. He will need to make a conscious decision every single day to live a sober life.

"And I wish we could say we know for sure that he can and would. But the fact is we don't," they wrote. "But we do know he has a family and a community that care about him and will support him throughout his road to recovery."

Sentencing details

As conditions of his extended supervision, Engberg is required to seek, obtain and maintain full-time employment; submit to random drug screens; and maintain absolute sobriety.

Online court records indicate he began serving his prison term immediately after his sentencing. Carter gave Engberg, who has been in custody since he was charged in May, credit for 160 days of time already served.

Court records show Engberg owes the court about $950. His address is listed as the county jail.

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