Jeannette man testifies he ‘would never give anything to my brother,’ who died of overdose
Markus McGowan insisted Wednesday he did not sell the drugs that his younger brother used in fatal overdose in late 2016.
McGowan testified during the second day of his trial on a charge that he sold a fatal dose of fentanyl to his brother. He said he discovered what he believed to be heroin when he was asked to retrieve work clothes for his brother stored in the basement of his home.
“I have three kids in the home, so he needed to get rid of them,” McGowan testified.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Thursday after lawyers make their closing arguments. McGowan is charged with one felony count of drug delivery resulting in death. Prosecutors contend he sold his 22-year-old brother, Matthew McGowan, six or seven bags of drugs on Dec. 27, 2016.
Matthew McGowan died from an overdose a day later. His part-time roommate, Melody Martinez, testified Wednesday that Matthew McGowan overdosed on Dec. 27 in her Greensburg apartment after using some of the drugs sold by his brother but was resuscitated by her with a dose of Narcan, an overdose-reversal prescription medication.
A day later, she and Matthew McGowan each used the same drugs stamped with markings that read “Hook Me Up.” Martinez said she overdosed, was treated by medics and taken to the hospital for care. When she returned that evening, she found Matthew McGowan sitting on the floor in front of a Christmas tree with legs crossed and his head in his hands.
“I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t even shrug. I lifted his head and saw blood coming out of his nose, so I lay him down and started compressions,” Martinez told jurors. She said another woman in the apartment called 911 and removed all traces of drugs from the residence.
After first responders were unable to resuscitate Matthew McGowan, Martinez said she told police that she heard him a day earlier arranging to buy drugs from his brother for $60.
Prosecutors said that conversation with Markus McGowan was documented on text messages discovered on both brother’s phones.
Markus McGowan denied that the message was an agreement to sell his brother drugs.
“I honestly think he meant to send it to someone else,” Markus McGowan testified.
He told jurors his brother stayed with his family in Jeannette during the week and that he initially discovered about seven packets that he suspected was heroin when he retrieved clothes from his basement for his brother. He called him to demand he get the drugs out of his home.
He testified he found more suspected drugs in a blue box that he put on a shelf to keep away from his children and later turned them over to police who came to notify him about his brother’s death.
“I started crying and that’s all I remember. I would never give anything to my brother,” McGowan testified.
During brief rebuttal testimony, Greensburg Detective John Swank said those drugs had the same markings as the what Matthew McGowan used before his overdose. Swank told jurors Markus McGowan specifically confessed that he sold six bags of the drugs to his brother for $60 and even identified the person from whom he originally purchased it from.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .