A Dahlonega man accused of murder in a 2022 fentanyl overdose in Gainesville had his charge reduced to involuntary manslaughter in a negotiated plea, according to court documents.
Joshua Chad Evans, 32, was sentenced Jan. 13 to 30 years with the first 10 years to serve in prison by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal. Deal allowed Evans credit for time served since April 15, 2022, and the remainder of the sentence may be served on probation.
Evans was indicted on the felony murder charge from the Feb. 12, 2022, death of Malcolm Drew Ogletree, 34, after a drug overdose.
The autopsy showed Ogletree, of Gainesville, died by intoxication from fentanyl.
Gainesville Police Investigator Glenn Ewing testified at a Magistrate Court hearing about Facebook messages between the two men about a plan to meet up hours before Ogletree died.
Authorities believe the two men met near the intersection of Candler and Baker Roads, and Ogletree was found dead in his truck at the Circle K on Candler Road.
Ewing testified that an officer reviewing video from the Circle K of Ogletree in his car showed him alive with his car light on around 2 a.m. Feb. 13, a few hours after the planned exchange between Evans and Ogletree.
Evans pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and sale of fentanyl.
Defense attorney Chloe Owens said both men, who were acquaintances, had struggled with drug addiction. Calling it a good resolution to the case, Owens said there were some issues with proving the case.
“They don’t know where he went after he met up with Josh, and then there’s some issues too where Malcolm reached back out to Josh asking if he had more,” Owens said.
Angie Hammond Ogletree, Ogletree’s mother, described her son as someone with a good heart who never knew a stranger.
She said Malcolm was an addict and was working on sobriety for roughly 16 months around the time of his death.
“I think he’s at peace now,” she said. “He doesn’t have to fight that demon anymore.”
Angie Ogletree said members of Ogletree’s family are trying to give forgiveness. She said the two men were friends at one time.
“I didn’t want to destroy two families,” Angie Ogletree said about the plea.
Ogletree’s mother said she and Malcolm’s friends gathered for what would have been his birthday on Sept. 29.
Calling attention to the stark increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses, Angie Ogletree said she wants the community to be aware of the dangers of the drug and the potential consequences when distributing it to others.