Drug Dealer gets Life Sentence for Fatal Fentanyl Overdose


A Missouri man will spend the rest of his life in prison for selling fentanyl to someone who suffered a fatal overdose on the drug.

O’Fallon resident Gerald E. Cardwell Jr., 50, learned of his fate Thursday in a federal courtroom, nearly four months after a jury convicted him in the death of Ryan Leahy. Prosecutors say Cardwell gave Leahy a “special mix” of fentanyl and Adderall at the Hollywood Casino Hotel in July 2019. When Cardwell checked out the next morning, he told the hotel staff that Leahy was asleep and didn’t want to be disturbed, prosecutors say. A maid found his body about five hours later.

“It’s unconscionable,” U.S. Judge John Ross told Cardwell in handing down the sentence. “It’s incredible that you would leave him in that hotel room in the condition that he was in.” Despite Ross’ comments, prosecutors say it’s unclear whether Leahy was dead when Cardwell left.

While this is a horrible situation, should a life sentence be reserved for someone who commits premeditated murder?

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