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Browerville woman sentenced for murder in the third degree

LITTLE FALLS — Patricia Ann Taylor was sentenced to 74 months in prison by Judge Conrad I. Freeberg late Monday afternoon in Morrison County District Court. Taylor had pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree in February. A person is guilty of murder in the third degree if they without intent, proximately caused the death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivery, exchanging, distributing, or administering a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II.

Taylor admitted selling her prescription Fentanyl patches to Jason Ramsdell on February 12, 2010. Fentanyl is a powerful pain killer distributed in patches designed to release the medication over a three day period. Ramsdell died of Fentanyl intoxication later that same day. According to cell phone records, Ramsdell was in cell phone communication with Patricia Ann Taylor, 54 of Browerville, three occasions on the day he died arranging the drug buy.

 Fentanyl prescriptions, boxes and patches are all number coded. A Fentanyl patch found in Ramsdell’s mouth was from the batch that was part of Taylor’s prescription. A search warrant executed at Taylor’s residence located the original prescription box from the February 12 prescription. Another resident of Taylor’s residence told investigators that Taylor sold prescription medicines and that Ramsdell had been at their residence.

At sentencing, the defense argued for a sentence of 425 days, arguing that Taylor had sold a prescription drug, not methamphetamine or heroine.  Assistant County Attorney Todd Kosovich disagreed.

“The protection of society demands that those who somehow think it is OK to share and sell deadly medications just because they have the magic word “prescription” need to know that resulting deaths are murder and will be treated as such,” Kosovich said.

Kosovich also noted that Sheriff Wetzel had told the county board just a few weeks before that prescription drug sale was the leading crime problem in the county.  

Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said, “I hope people get the message that the sale of prescription drugs is a serious problem, and it will result in significant prison time.”

In imposing the sentence requested by the state, Judge Freeberg noted that deterrence was a significant factor in his decision to send Taylor to prison.