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Jail time for man accused of distributing drugs that caused death of MSU student from Billings

Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 21:28:33-04

BOZEMAN – A man accused of providing drugs that resulted in the 2016 overdose death of an MSU student pleaded guilty on Tuesday to criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, a felony. Daniel McGrail was sentenced in Gallatin County District Court to 90 days in the Gallatin County Detention Center, followed by a five-year suspended sentence. He must also pay a $5,000 fine.

McGrail was charged after Natalie Dietrich, 20, was found unresponsive in the bathroom of the now-defunct Fault Line North music venue in Bozeman on Jan. 30, 2016. Dietrich, an MSU student from Billings who was studying economics, died at the scene.

According to court documents, Dietrich and her boyfriend, who was also passed out in the bathroom, had taken a synthetic drug called "Euphoria," an opioid also known as U-47700. Dietrich’s boyfriend, Geoffrey Qualls recovered from the overdose and was later charged for allegedly providing Dietrich with the drug.

Qualls was originally charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute. He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a lesser possession charge and received a two-year deferred sentence.

Prosecutors for the state recommended a three-year suspended sentence for McGrail, citing his lack of prior criminal history and obedience with court orders while his case was pending among the reasons for the recommendation.

McGrail’s defense attorney sought a deferred sentence, which would prevent McGrail from having a permanent felony conviction on his record.

McGrail apologized to the Dietrich family in court, saying "It was stupid to do and something I’ll never do again."

Judge Holly Brown did not accept the state’s recommendation in sentencing McGrail, stating that what he did made no sense given his background and upbringing. "There is nothing this court can do for the Dietrich family for what they’ve lost," she said.

After his release from the Detention Center, McGrail will have his supervision transferred to Illinois, his state of residence, for the remainder of his suspended sentence.

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