Rochester woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in overdose death
Nicole Jeanne Thorson's plea deal dismisses a more serious third-degree murder charge and one count of of third-degree drug sale, both felonies, in Goodhue County District Court.
RED WING — A 25-year-old Rochester woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter as part of a plea deal in a court case regarding the 2021 death of a Roseville man who overdosed on counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.
Nicole Jeanne Thorson's plea deal dismisses a more serious third-degree murder charge and one count of third-degree drug sale, both felonies, in Goodhue County District Court.
Thorson and her partner, Brandon James Mann, 25, of Stewartville, were both accused of selling a Roseville man dozens of pills he thought were prescription opioids in December 2021. The man died later that month of an overdose and pills found at his residence tested positive for fentanyl.
Mann was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this month for his role in the death as part of a plea deal similar to Thorson's where Mann pleaded guilty to felony second-degree murder and that dismissed a murder and drug sale charge.
Thorson's plea deal caps her prison sentence at 58 months and credits her with time served. She has been in custody at the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center since June 2022.
Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14, 2023.
According to the criminal complaint:
The Roseville man, identified as B.M., bought dozens of pills he believed to be prescription opioids from Thorson and Mann in December 2021.
Eight of those pills later found in B.M.'s residence would test positive for fentanyl following a March 2022 Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab test.
B.M. was found deceased Dec. 11, 2021, in his Roseville apartment by members of the Roseville Fire Department. Autopsy results from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner in February 2022 listed the cause of death as "complications of fentanyl toxicity."
Investigators found multiple phone and social media messages between B.M., Mann and Thorson regarding the selling of the pills.
During a series of messages between the three, Mann would tell B.M. the pills are not fentanyl but to be careful with taking them.
"Can't imagine the guilt I'd feel if you od'd ya know," Mann wrote in one message to B.M.
Law enforcement learned that B.M. purchased 10 counterfeit pills imprinted with M30 from Thorson on Dec. 9, 2021, at a Kwik Trip in Zumbrota. M30 imprinted pills have been involved in several overdoses, according to law enforcement.
In a January 2022 statement to law enforcement, Mann said he sold B.M. Xanax and OxyContin but that he tested them and they came back negative for fentanyl. Mann told law enforcement that he tested one out of 10 pills and that he did not know what was in all of them.
Thorson also told police she sold pills to B.M.