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Texas man convicted in synthetic drug deaths of 2 teenagers denied extension to file appeal

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FARGO, North Dakota — A judge says a Texas man accused of selling chemicals that led to the synthetic drug overdoses of two Grand Forks-area teens missed his window for appeal.

Charles Carlton was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison on three counts, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death.

Carlton was one of 15 defendants convicted in an investigation dubbed "Operation Stolen Youth." Authorities say the hallucinogens killed 18-year-old Christian Bjerk, of Grand Forks, and 17-year-old Elijah Stai, of Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Carlton says his lawyer failed to help with the appeal and that's why he missed a Sept. 17 deadline.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson says he could extend the appeal deadline by 30 days, but that would still be too late for Carlton.

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