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Man sentenced to 20 years in deaths of two Grand Forks area teenagers

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - A judge handed down a more than 20 year sentence today to a man implicated in the deaths of two Grand Forks area teenagers.

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Charles Carlton was the last of 15 people charged in the deaths of Christian Bjerk and Elija Stai.

Authorities say the teens ingested hallucinogens made from chemicals bought from Carlton's company - Motion Resources LLC.

Bjerk's father and mother read victim impact statements in court today. 

Keith Bjerk says he still grieves the loss of his son everyday - and he believes Carlton deserved the maximum sentence.

In March, Charles Carlton pleaded guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death. He will now serve 20 and half years in prison - then three years supervised probation.

17-year-old Elijah Stai of Park Rapids and 18-year-old Christian Bjerk of Grand Forks died within two weeks of each other back in June of 2012 after ingesting the hallucinogens.

In the last two years family and friends have remembered the two teens with memorials and ceremonies.

Keith Bjerk says both Elijah, and his son Christian left the world with a lot of love.

Keith Bjerk/Father of Christian Bjerk: “There's no way to look at those deaths and justify them in anyway shape or form. They were innocent. They called it operation stolen youth. Stolen youth, and that's what happened.”

Keith Bjerk and his family have been on a mission to try to prevent other parents and teens from suffering the same loss they endured.

They testified in front of the state senate to pass a blanket law that covers new synthetic substances showing up on a constant basis.

Christian Bjerk would have celebrated his 21st birthday Tuesday August 26th.

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