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Gainesville man gets 15 years in prison for drug case that left friend dead
Lisa Hicks prepares to give a statement and read a poem about her son's death Monday morning in Hall County Superior Court during a plea hearing for Casey Trichel who pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl and involuntary manslaughter. - photo by Scott Rogers

GAINESVILLE — In a poem about her son’s death, Lisa Hicks did not mince words.

Joseph Patterson was “betrayed by a friend who was no friend” and was “provided the poison” by Casey Trichel, she said.

Trichel, 25, of Winder, pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl and involuntary manslaughter Monday morning in Hall County Superior Court.

Patterson, 23, of Winder, died of a fentanyl overdose and was found Feb. 16 by Gainesville police at a Shades Valley Lane home in Gainesville.

Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin accepted the plea deal as presented, a 30-year sentence with half to be served in prison. Trichel also received a concurrent 10 years for involuntary manslaughter.

Trichel was previously charged with felony murder, but Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson said the negotiated plea deal dismisses that charge.

Patterson had ingested two or three pills of what he believed to be oxycodone, Robertson said, but the drug was actually fentanyl.

“It is the most potent opioid available for use in medical treatment,” the assistant district attorney said.

According to police interviews, Trichel made multiple attempts to reach Patterson, Hicks and other family members to warn them the pills may not be what he thought they were.

As part of the plea agreement, Robertson said Trichel was also required to“provide information on where he got these drugs,” which has been turned over to law enforcement.

Trichel’s attorney Scott Drake focused on his client’s attempts to warn Patterson about the drugs disguised as something else.

No family members of Trichel spoke at the plea hearing.

Hicks walked to the microphone to read a poem of Patterson’s life, describing him as a hard-working man.

“He is gone, but he has a right to be heard,” she said.

Following the poem, Hicks described the day she learned of Patterson’s death, driving through Gainesville and screaming into voicemail boxes to find out what had happened.

“Everything inside me broke,” she said.

The victim’s mother described her work for Joe’s Law, a proposal for legislation that would create a stronger punishment for those manufacturing or distributing dangerous counterfeit drugs.

When ending her statement, Hicks offered no mercy for Trichel.

“I hope that you, Casey, suffer every single minute of every single hour of every single day as I have done,” she said. “I will never forgive you.”