Prosecutors say Zachary Gontard, 38, was a middle-man in the fatal drug deal. Earlier this year, Gontard pleaded guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of the drug dealer. That man, Pierre Desean Cooley, 29, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Gontard was sentenced to a year in the workhouse. Prosecutors say the shorter sentence is due in part to his limited involvement with the crime and his willingness to cooperate.
A court official read from a letter written by the victim's father. Martin Jennings wrote that his son, Andrew Jennings, who was 23, had struggled with heroin addiction for about a year before his death. Martin Jennings also wrote that the family is still not coping well with their loss.
"His dead body is the first thing I see every morning," wrote Martin Jennings.
According to the criminal complaint, Andrew Jennings' parents discovered their son's body in his St. Louis Park apartment. Andrew Jennings had failed to respond to phone calls and text messages. The medical examiner determined the cause of death was heroin and fentanyl toxicity.
Martin Jennings wrote that his son had a "kind heart and a brilliant mind." And he wrote that Andrew Jennings was prone to depression, which is likely what led him to start using heroin in 2016.
Before he was sentenced, Gontard apologized to both the Jennings family and his own. "I'm responsible for the death of another human being," said Gontard.
Gontard's attorney Craig Cascarano asked judge Martha Holton Dimick to allow Gontard to continue his own drug treatment program.
Holton Dimick will grant regular furloughs so Gontard can work on beating his addiction. The judge also told Gontard that he must work hard to defeat his demons, "Or you're going to end up in the same place as Andrew Jennings."