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Burnet man pleads guilty to delivery of drugs that took 21-year-old’s life


BURNET — Sixteen months ago, Janet Christiansen faced the terror no parent wants to face: the death of a child.

Her 21-year-old son, Charles Caleb Christiansen, was found unresponsive in his Burnet home on Dec. 14, 2011. As she raced to the residence, the young man’s father told her their child’s body was cold.

On April 19, Christiansen addressed the man who provided her son with the drugs that eventually took his life.

“You could have been his rescuer, instead, you were his executioner,” the mother told Joe Daniel Sosa, 41, in District Judge Dan Mills courtroom. “Caleb paid the ultimate price for his decision (to use drugs). Now you’ll pay yours.”

Sosa pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance that subsequently caused the death of the 21-year-old man. As part of the plea, Sosa accepted a 15-year prison term.

District Attorney Sonny McAfee said the plea and subsequent prison term was a tremendous turn of events in the case.

“The fact that he’s going to the penitentiary is a really big deal,” the district attorney said. “The person who dealt the drugs which led to this young man’s death is being held responsible for the consequences of his actions, not just the fact he provided the drugs.”

A Travis County Medical Examiner’s report released after Caleb Christiansen’s death stated the young man died of methadone toxicity. Though the medical examiner’s report ruled his death an accident, a Burnet Police Department investigation eventually led them to the man who provided the drugs to Christiansen.

McAfee said Sosa’s conviction should stand as a reminder to the community, and especially drug dealers, that if a person sells or provides a drug to another individual taht causes a death or injury, the peddler can be held accountable.

Christiansen’s mother recounted the horror of receiving a phone call as she and family members prepared for her daughter’s birthday.

“I screamed and cried all the way (to Caleb’s house),” she read from her victim’s impact statement. “His death was completely avoidable.”

She told Sosa he put her son’s life at risk all “so you could make a buck.”

“He was lied to by those trying to create another generation of drug users,” Christiansen said. “His sweet sister will always mark her birthday and the death of her brother on the same day.”

But the mother also offered words of hope to Sosa. She said one thing that brought her comfort was knowing her son had accepted Jesus as his savior. She told Sosa he also could follow in Caleb’s lead in that matter.

“You just have to ask (Jesus) into your heart,” she said. Then she added, “Caleb would want you to.”