UPDATE: Woman pleads guilty in overdose murder case

·2 min read

Sep. 8—MANKATO — A supplier of fentanyl that caused a fatal overdose in Mankato has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, according to court records.

Anna Marie Bailey, 61, of Mankato, was set to go to a jury trial next week. The trial was canceled after she pleaded guilty and was convicted Wednesday in Blue Earth County District Court.

Third-degree murder indicates a person unintentionally caused a death by directly or indirectly selling, distributing or exchanging unlawful substances.

A criminal complaint filed against Bailey in April 2021 stated she was a source of fentanyl leading up to 21-year-old Travis Gustavson's overdose death in February 2021.

County records show a second alleged source of the fentanyl, Max Leo Miller, 23, of St. Peter, still faced a third-degree murder charge as of Thursday.

Gustavson's family has been outspoken about overdose prevention since his death, raising awareness and encouraging broader access to the overdose reversal medication naloxone. They attended Bailey's pre-trial hearing in late August.

At the hearing, defense and prosecution attorneys told judge Mark Edward Betters they may discuss a possible plea before the jury trial.

Bailey's petition to enter a guilty plea, signed Tuesday and filed in court Wednesday, states the plea agreement would result in a three-year prison sentence. The maximum penalty she could've faced after trial would've been a 25-year prison sentence.

Gustavson's mother, Kim Gustavson, said the family wanted a longer sentence for Bailey, describing the three years as "devastating to our hearts." There's only some solace to be had from Bailey admitting she supplied the fentanyl, Kim said.

"I'd rather she had more time and still had to say that," Kim said. "That will go on her record that she murdered somebody."

Bailey's conviction is the latest related to a rash of fatal overdoses in the Mankato area in recent years. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid laced into illicit drugs, was a key contributing factor to Minnesota's 22% increase in fatal overdoses in 2021, according to Minnesota Department of Health data.

In August an unrelated case led to another Mankato supplier's guilty plea to third-degree murder. Myles Daniel Hickman, 27, supplied heroin containing fentanyl to Jesse Barnhart before Barnhart's May 2021 death.

A third case involving a fentanyl-involved overdose is set to go to a jury trial in January. Dorian Lashawn Langston, of St. Cloud, faces a third-degree murder charge for his alleged role in 32-year-old Jaeton Williams' death in September 2020.

Bailey's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8.

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