Members of David Mack-Bohnhoff's family say while he struggled with opioid addiction for much of his adult life, that didn't define who he was. They filled nearly half of a Hennepin County courtroom to watch the man who sold drugs to him receive a prison sentence.
Garyegus Cooper, 39, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty to 2nd degree drug sales and an unrelated charge of promotion of prostitution. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a 3rd degree murder charge. He was sentenced to just over 8 years in prison.
• Topic: Minnesota's opioid epidemic
Mack-Bohnhoff's mother, Victoria McConnell, told judge Kerry Meyer that her son was a big guy, 6'2", 230 lbs., who loved to hunt, fish and travel. At 14, Mack-Bohnhoff was injured in a dirt bike accident and underwent painful surgery. McConnell said her son was prescribed opioiods to help manage the pain.
Mack-Bohnhoff's long battle with addiction included treatment stays and a two-year period of sobriety. During that time, McConnell said her son got his life on track.
But then he slipped.
On June 25, 2016, his aunt and uncle, Dave and Renee Mack, found Mack-Bohnhoff dead in his Orono home at the age of 33. Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the scene reported finding needles near his body and puncture wounds on one of Mack-Bohnhoff's arms.
Cynthia McCartney, one of Mack-Bohnhoff's aunts, read from a letter penned by two other relatives, David and Renee Mack. The letter began by telling Cooper that they were angry at him that their last memory of their nephew was "finding his cold, lifeless body alone on his bedroom floor."
McCartney said she'd hoped Cooper would receive the maximum sentence for the pain he caused the family.
Cooper is one of at least seven people prosecuted in Hennepin County this year for heroin or fentanyl overdose-related cases.
Before he was sentenced, Cooper apologized to the family.
"Me and Dave had more than a drug dealing relationship," said Cooper. "He was more than an addict and a junkie to me. I'm just really sorry for what happened."