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2 guilty pleas in separate synthetic drug deaths

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Defendants in two separate Minnesota cases involving the deaths of two teenage girls who took synthetic drugs entered guilty pleas Monday.

Murder plea in Woodbury teenager's death

The man who supplied the synthetic drug that killed Woodbury teenager Tara Fitzgerald last winter pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree murder, the Star Tribune reports.

Alexander Claussen, 19, of St. Cloud, admitted in court that he had sold the drug, a synthetic form of LSD known as 25i-NBOMe, that Fitzgerald ingested at her house while a friend was visiting. She died the next morning.

Authorities say Claussen was one of five people whose hands the drug passed through before ending up in Fitzgerald’s possession.

According to a criminal complaint filed in May, the substance was initially sold by Claussen to Cole Matenaer, 19, in the fall of 2013. It was then purchased consecutively by three different 17-year-old suspects, until its final sale to Fitzgerald on or about Jan. 4, 2014.

Matenaer pled guilty to felony third-degree murder last month. The three minors – two males and one female – were each charged with third-degree murder, as well as selling drugs to a person under the age of 18.

Claussen's plea did not come from any agreement with prosecutors on a sentence. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 23. Matenaer will be sentenced on Oct. 10. State guidelines for third-degree murder recommend a sentence of 74 to 102 months in prison, according to the Star Tribune.

Mankato teen pleads guilty in girlfriend's death

In Blue Earth County, a 17-year old boy pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree manslaughter and a drug possession charge in connection with the synthetic drug death of his girlfriend, Chloe Moses, in March.

The Mankato Free Press reports that Trace Hafner was with Moses at her home in Mankato on March 7 when they took a drug they thought was LSD. But it was the same synthetic drug, 25C-NBOMe, as the other case. Moses died in a Twin Cities hospital three days later.

His plea to a lesser charge means Hafner admits being negligent in Moses' death, but not causing it, according to KEYC.

Hafner said in court Monday that he purchased the drugs from a teenager who was a known drug dealer in late February. He admitted he did not call 911 when Moses began having seizures after taking the drug.

Hafner's guilty plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors which allows him to avoid prison time. Instead, Hafner will receive a six-month stay of adjudication for the manslaughter charge, which means it will be dismissed if he complies with the requirements of his probation, the Free Press reports.

He will be sentenced as an adult for the drug possession charge, but that sentence also will be stayed if Hafner meets probation requirements for that charge until he is 21.

Two adults are still facing charges of third-degree murder in the deaths of Moses and a Mankato man, 22-year-old Louis Folson, who took the same drug and died around the same time.

Tyler Caputo, 21, of Mankato is facing two murder counts for allegedly supplying the drug to the 15-year-old boy who sold it to Hafner and to James Luke Inman, 30, of Mankato, according to the Free Press.

Inman is facing one murder count for allegedly selling the drug to Folson.

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