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Minnesota Teen Pleads Guilty To Murder In Overdose Death

A total of five teens were charged with third-degree murder in the death of Tara Fitzgerald from synthetic drugs.

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Cole Matenaer. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

08/15/14

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A Minnesota teenager could potentially spend the next eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to the overdose death of a 17-year-old girl.

Five teenagers have been charged with third-degree murder in the death of Tara Fitzgerald, but 19-year-old Cole Alexander Matenaer has been the first to plead guilty. No plea deal was agreed upon beforehand, which means that he is not guaranteed a reduced sentence in exchange for the guilty plea.

Matenaer said in court last week that he wanted “to make amends for what I did.” His other friends, 19-year-old Alexander Lee Claussen, and 17-year-olds Sydney Clair Johnson, Alistair Curtis Berg, and Brian Phillip Norlander, have not entered their pleas.

“We’re sending that message that the suppliers are going to be held fully to account,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. “There's a big lesson to be had out of this…this isn't harmless. Handing out drugs to each other isn't harmless. This isn't a bag of weed...Nobody's dying from that stuff."

Fitzgerald was found unresponsive at her home on Jan. 11 and pronounced dead that evening at a nearby hospital. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a synthetic form of LSD known as N-Bomb. Orput said that Claussen supplied the drugs to the other defendants, who then sold it, and Norlander gave the drug to Fitzgerald. Videos later found on Fitzgerald’s cell phone allegedly showed her and another friend under the influence of the drug.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that N-Bomb was responsible for at least 19 deaths between March 2012 and November 2013, with at least three more deaths related to the drug being reported since then. The DEA declared it as a Schedule I drug last November, putting it in the same category as crack cocaine and heroin.

Johnson, Berg, and Norlander also face additional charges for the alleged sale of dangerous drugs to someone under the age of 18.

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