Forty-three- year old Erik Gavin Ovalle of Calhoun was sentenced in Bartow Superior Court Monday morning. Last month, a local jury found him guilty of felony murder and violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act. Ovalle was sentenced to life in prison and, once released from prison, life on probation.
According to the facts of the case, between June 24th and June 25th, 2021, while in the act of drug distribution, Ovalle sold 16-year-old Gabriel Martin Nicholson drugs laced with fentanyl. The drug was represented as heroin.
In June 2021, Ovalle met Nicholson in the parking lot of the Mcdonalds’ restaurant in Adairsville. He sold the teenager heroin laced with fentanyl. Within hours of using the drug, the teen was dead. Unaware of Nicholson’s death, Ovalle continued texting the young man asking if he wanted more. Nicholson’s friend took the phone with the texts to Adairsville Police. They began an investigation and set up a controlled buy with Ovalle. Ovalle was arrested with the same fentanyl-laced drugs in his possession.
Before sentencing, Judge Suzanne Smith heard from Nicholson’s mother and Ovalle’s stepfather. She also heard from a juror who regrets her decision to find Ovalle guilty of murder.
His attorney asked for a lesser sentence of life with the first 20 years to serve incarcerated. Again, Ovalle was sentenced to life in prison and, once released from prison, life on probation.
Immediately following the sentencing hearing, attorney Stewart Bratcher filed a motion for a new trial.
We have interviews with many of those who spoke during the hearing, including Bratcher. Tune to WBHF for more on the story.