Teen gets five years in prison for friend's death

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A southwest Missouri teen was sentenced to five years in prison Monday in the alcohol and drug-overdose death of his friend.

Nathan W. Smith, 19, of Rogersville, pleaded guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter during his appearance in Greene County Circuit Court.

Smith was among four people charged in the February death of Jeffrey "Cale" Gormley. The 16-year-old had spent the night drinking alcohol and downing the anti-anxiety prescription drug Xanax at a friend's house near Rogersville, authorities said. He had a .402 blood-alcohol content.

The combination of alcohol and drugs slowed the teenager's breathing to the point that he was unable to get sufficient oxygen into his blood, causing asphyxiation, an autopsy showed.

Smith bought a case of beer and a bottle of Jim Beam whiskey at a Rogersville grocery before going with Gormley to the party, authorities said.

Police said Smith saw that Gormley was ill, but he did nothing to help him. Smith should have known the dangers of combining alcohol and drugs because he earlier had been hospitalized himself with convulsions after drinking, police said.

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