A Georgia man who was convicted of rape and released on bond then strangled one man and sold another man the drugs that killed him, according to the Canton district attorney.
Nicholas Brian Gosnell, 23, pleaded guilty to rape, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault/strangulation, trafficking fentanyl and violation of the Georgia Substances Act for crimes that involved three different victims.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said that in July 2018, officers were asked to investigate a drug-facilitated sexual assault. The victim said Gosnell gave her illegal drugs and forced more intoxicants on her before raping her. Gosnell was arrested on rape charges after a DNA test and sexual assault examination of the victim.
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“The night the victim met this defendant, she had no idea what his intentions were. After giving her drugs, he took advantage of her intoxicated state. Witness statements described her level of intoxication as being to the point where she could not possibly consent. Physical evidence also determined that she tried to resist him,” said Assistant District Attorney Meaghan Frankish, of the Special Victims Unit, who prosecuted this case on behalf of the state.
“During the investigation and prosecution of this case, it became very clear that Gosnell pressured this woman throughout the evening, forcing several drugs on her, and, ultimately, forcing himself on her.”
Gosnell was released on bond over the state’s objection at some point in 2020, the DA’s office said. In Sept. 2020 they got a tip that Gosnell was selling narcotics. Undercover agents were able to purchase drugs from Gosnell that tested positive for fentanyl.
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS) executed a search warrant of Gosnell’s home and found 36 oxycodone pills, fentanyl patches, 224 alprazolam pills and $28,000 in cash. When agents examined Gosnell’s cellphone, they found texts from 40-year-old John O’Connell, who took drugs laced with fentanyl and died on Aug. 19, 2020.
CMANS started to investigation what had been initially classified as a drug overdose as a homicide.
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CMANS agents were able to determine that Gosnell sold O’Connell the drugs that killed him on the night of his overdose.
“This defendant supplied fentanyl to drug addicts even though he was fully aware that fentanyl could be fatal and that addicts were vulnerable targets. His sole purpose of taking advantage of these individuals was to make money. And knowing the risk was death, he did it anyway,” said ADA Frankish.
While examining Gosnell’s cellphone, detectives also found text messages in which he told friends he had strangled a man, which led to the aggravated assault charges.
Gosnell was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a lifetime after that on probation.
“Through excellent undercover and forensics investigations, CMANS was able to clearly connect Nicholas Gosnell to an overdose fatality, enabling our office to prosecute him for the death of Mr. O’Connell,” said District Attorney Shannon Wallace. “This defendant’s reign of trafficking poison and committing violent acts has ended for our community. No more can he victimize the vulnerable through despicable acts of sexual assault and selling tainted drugs. May this sentence provide closure for the victims of his crimes and their families.”