Two men sentenced in teenager's synthetic drug overdose death


Two men will spend time behind bars for providing the synthetic drug that killed a Woodbury teenager last year.

Alexander Claussen, 20, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Cole Matenaer, 19, of Woodbury both pleaded guilty last fall to third-degree murder for their roles in supplying the drugs that killed Tara Fitzgerald, 17, in January 2014.

They were sentenced in Washington County District Court Friday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Claussen was sentenced to about six years in prison, while Matenaer was sentenced to one year in jail and 15 years' probation, according to the Pioneer Press.

Claussen admitted during his plea hearing 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.

According to the criminal complaint filed in May, the substance was initially sold by Claussen to Matenaer 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.

Those three other teens were also charged in the case. Prosecutors are seeking to have them certified to adult court. They have hearings in February and March.

Fitzgerald was a junior at Woodbury High School at the time of her death, and was remembered as a talented artist and musician, and an avid reader.

Tom Fitzgerald, Tara's father, said in court Friday that the two defendants preyed on his daughter and put money before conscience, the Star Tribune reports.

Claussen and Matenaer had previously apologized to the Fitzgerald family and said they were trying to recover from their drug addictions, according to the Star Tribune.

Matenaer received a lighter sentence because he has made progress in his drug treatment and cooperated with investigators, the Star Tribune notes.

Next Up