- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A 19-year-old pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for providing a synthetic drug to a classmate who died of an overdose.

Cole A. Matenaer, of Woodbury, pleaded guilty to providing a designer psychedelic drug similar to LSD that killed 17-year-old Tara Fitzgerald on Jan. 11, just hours after she took it, according to the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1snX3sY ). She was a Woodbury High School junior.

Washington County prosecutors have taken a hard line in prosecuting crimes involving drug overdoses and synthetic drugs, including targeting the supply chain of those drugs. Three of those charged in Fitzgerald’s case were 17 at the time charges were filed and were certified as adults for prosecution.

Matenaer is scheduled to be sentenced in October. Fred Fink, head of the criminal division in the Washington County attorney’s office, said a prison sentence of 74 to 103 months is likely, though the judge has discretion.

Others charged with third-degree murder in Fitzgerald’s death were Sydney C. Johnson, now 18, of Woodbury; Alistair C. Berg and Brian P. Norlander, both 17 and of Woodbury; and Alexander L. Claussen, 19, of St. Cloud. The murder charges relate to the sale and distribution of controlled substances.

Prosecutors say they were part of a Washington County drug-dealing chain.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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