A Bartow County Superior Court Judge sentenced Erik Gavin Ovalle of 43, Calhoun, to life in prison to be followed by life on probation when he is released.
Ovalle was found guilty of felony murder and violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act.
According to reports, Ovalle sold 16 year-old Gabriel Martin Nicholson drugs that were laced with fentanyl. The teen supposedly was buying heroin from Ovalle in June of 2021.
Authorities said that Ovalle met Nicholson in the parking lot of the Mcdonalds’ restaurant in Adairsville where he sold him the drugs.
Police said the teen died within hours of using the drug. However, reports added that Ovalle was unaware that Nicholson had died and continued to text him asking if he wanted more drugs.
Nicholson’s friend took the phone with the texts to the Adairsville Police. An investigation was launched and a controlled buy with Ovalle was arranged. Ovalle was arrested with the same fentanyl-laced drugs in his possession.
Before sentencing, Judge Suzanne Smith heard from Nicholson’s mother and Ovalle’s stepfather. She also heard from a juror who regrets her decision to find Ovalle guilty of murder.
Immediately following the sentencing hearing, attorney Stewart Bratcher filed a motion for a new trial.
Bratcher told CVN, “In Georgia, the felony murder statue applies where someone “in the commission of” a felony, caused the death of another. In our view, in the case of the drug transaction followed by an overdose that results from use of the drug at a different time and location, felony murder no longer applies because the transaction that was inflicted did not occur “in the commission” of the transaction. “
Bratcher added, “We look forward to expounding on this position at Mr. Orvalle’s motion for a new trial, and, if necessary, on appeal.”