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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley man involved in fentanyl deal that led to fatal shooting receives 19 years in federal prison

Gabe Casper, 20, was killed in May 2021 in Coeur d'Alene in an attempted drug robbery, according to investigators.   (Courtesy of Facebook)

A 20-year-old Spokane Valley man targeted in an apparent botched drug deal that led to the shooting death of another 20-year-old in May 2021 will spend 19 years in federal prison.

Matthew James Holmberg was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Idaho on Monday, more than two years after the shooting in Coeur d’Alene that killed Gabriel Casper. Holmberg had pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge of distributing a controlled substance and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Holmberg and Dennen Trey George Fitterer-Usher arrived at a location near Cherry Hill in Coeur d’Alene on May 31, 2021, intending to sell $300 worth of fentanyl pills to Casper, Vadin Bartleett and Ashton Creech, according to investigators. The trio instead attempted to rob Holmberg and Fitterer-Usherer, and Fitterer-Usher shot Casper six times in the ensuing struggle, according to investigators. Holmberg then sped off and dumped a wounded Casper, who died of his wounds.

Investigators discovered Holmberg had been selling fentanyl pills using social media apps, including SnapChat, and his buyers included a 15-year-old Lake City High School student who later died of an overdose.

Those drugs were purchased from the members of a multistate fentanyl ring who called themselves “the Fetty Brothers.” Hunter O’Mealy and Caleb Carr received 20-year sentences, while Matthew Gudino-Pena received a 16-year sentence and Jamie Bellovich was sent to prison for more than three years for their roles in that case, which was filed in Washington’s federal courts.

Fitterer-Usher pleaded guilty to the same crimes and was sentenced to more than 14 years at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill in December. U.S. District Court Judge Amanda Brailsford sentenced Holmberg on Monday in a Coeur d’Alene courtroom, and according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Idaho, the 15-year-old’s overdose death factored in to his longer sentence.

Bartlett and Creech were prosecuted in Idaho for attempted robbery. Bartlett was given a suspended five-year sentence, while Creech received four years in prison.