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Four Convicted in Date-Rape Case

March 14, 2000 GMT

DETROIT (AP) _ Three young men were convicted of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday in the date-rape drug death of a 15-year-old girl. A fourth was convicted of a lesser charge.

In one of the nation’s first trials involving a death linked to the date-rape drug GHB, jurors also found Joshua Cole, 19, Daniel Brayman, 18, and Nicholas Holtschlag, 18, guilty of lesser poisoning charges.

Erick Limmer, 26, was found guilty of one count each of being an accessory to manslaughter, poisoning, delivery of marijuana and possession of GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate. Earlier this month, the judge threw out a manslaughter count against Limmer.

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The manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged the men gave Samantha Reid a soft drink secretly spiked with GHB during a Jan. 16, 1999, party at Limmer’s Grosse Ile apartment. She died the next day. Her friend Melanie Sindone, now 16, also ingested the drug and was briefly in a coma, but survived.

Samantha’s mother, Judi Clark, and Sindone hugged each other in the courtroom after the verdicts were read. The four defendants did not show any emotion, but Cole’s mother cried.

GHB is a colorless and odorless drug that can make a victim unconscious within 20 minutes. Victims frequently have no memory of what happened and the drug is difficult to trace, often leaving the body within 24 hours.

It has been linked to at least 58 deaths since 1990 and more than 5,700 recorded overdoses, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. In 1990, the FDA banned GHB for public sale, and a 1998 Michigan law made possessing the drug a felony.

President Clinton last month signed legislation toughening federal laws against possessing, making or distributing GHB.

Attorneys for Brayman and Holtschlag had argued their clients were unaware GHB was present at the party. Cole’s attorney has said his client spiked the drinks with what he believed was only a harmless intoxicant supplied by Limmer.

Limmer has said he was gone or in his bedroom most of the night the girls were drugged.

Last week, Cole’s attorney, John Courtright, repeatedly told jurors Samantha’s death was a ``tragic accident.″

Brayman, Holtschlag and Limmer argued that only Cole should be blamed. ``Joshua Cole is the one who created this tragedy and this hell for everyone to go through,″ Limmer’s attorney, Cecil St. Pierre, told jurors last week.

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Brayman attorney John Gates told jurors the case against his client was a product of ``innuendo,″ ``slander,″ half-truths″ and ``outright lies.″

The verdicts mean ``there’s definitely going to be accountability,″ Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Doug Baker said. ``There’s more than fun and games involved with these drugs.″

Cole’s case was heard by a separate jury because authorities said he confessed. The Southgate resident’s jury began deliberations March 7, and the jury for his three co-defendants began Friday.

The jury for Holtschlag, Brayman and Limmer reached its verdict shortly before noon Monday, and the judge sealed it until Cole’s jury reached its verdict Tuesday.

Cole was found innocent of a third poisoning count. Prosecutors alleged he drugged a third girl who did not become ill.

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On the Net:

National Institute on Drug Abuse site on GHB and other club drugs: http://www.clubdrugs.org