Jeannette man guilty of selling drugs that killed his brother
A Jeannette man was found guilty Thursday of selling the drugs his younger brother used just prior to his overdose death in Greensburg in late 2016.
Westmoreland County jurors deliberated nearly five hours before they found Markus McGowan, 31, guilty of one felony count of drug delivery resulting in death.
McGowan’s younger brother, Matthew, 22, died Dec. 28, 2016, from a fentanyl overdose. Police said the younger McGowan bought the fatal dose of drugs from his brother.
Matthew McGowan was found dead in an Eastmont Avenue apartment after using drugs prosecutors said he bought for $60 from his brother.
Following the guilty verdict, Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanigan said the sale of illegal drugs has become a substantial risk to the public.
“This is more dangerous than a loaded gun,” Flanigan said, “because you know what direction a loaded gun is pointed.”
Prosecutors said the drugs sold by Markus McGowan resulted in four overdoses in less than two days.
Matthew McGowan overdosed three times, the last incident fatal. His friend, with whom he shared the drugs sold by his brother, suffered one overdose but survived, police contended.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, defense attorney Brian Aston criticized the police investigation that almost immediately identified Markus McGowan as the man who sold the fatal dose of drugs.
“They looked nowhere else and looked at no one else,” Aston said.
McGowan, a youth football coach who prior to his arrest worked with handicapped children, denied he sold the drugs. He claimed they belonged to his brother.
Markus McGowan testified he found seven stamp bags of drugs in his basement and gave them to his brother to get them out of the house. He said he found another 46 packets and turned them over to police after they came to tell him about his brother’s overdose.
Prosecutors said text messages found on the phones of both men proved the sale of drugs. Flanigan said Markus McGowan confessed to police that he sold his brother drugs.
Flanigan said McGowan’s defense was “rewriting history.”
“The evidence in this case is as explicit as it is clear,” Flanigan argued.
Police said Matthew McGowan bought the drugs from his brother on Dec. 27, 2016, and was hospitalized after an overdose later that day. The following day, witnesses said he again overdosed and was revived after being administered a dose of Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Police were again called to the Eastmont Avenue apartment later that day for the overdose of a friend.
Melody Martinez testified that when she returned to her apartment after being discharged from the hospital that day she found Matthew McGowan unresponsive following an overdose.
Prosecutors said Martinez said Matthew McGowan bought the drugs they used to overdose with from his brother.
Markus McGowan and his family members embraced outside the courtroom following the reading of the guilty verdict and declined to comment about the case. He will remain free on bail pending his sentencing by Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani in about three months.
Flanigan said McGowan faces a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison but standard guidelines call for him to receive about five years behind bars.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .