Judge orders suspect to keep photo of man he sold fentanyl to as part of sentencing

A DeKalb County man was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to the fentanyl overdose of a 27-year-old.

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Alex Elbaz died in February 2020 after taking pills he didn’t know were laced with fentanyl, according to prosecutors. Philip Patterson was arrested and charged with felony murder shortly after Elbaz’s death.

On Tuesday, Patterson pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking a week before the murder trial was set to begin.

During his sentence, Judge Tom Davis told Patterson that he must keep a picture of Elbaz with him for the next 40 years, even if he is released from prison on probation. Violating this special condition could lead to a longer sentence, the judge ordered.

“That was the part of the whole thing today that felt satisfying,” said Joy Crowe, Elbaz’s mother.


Crowe has been waiting for justice for three years. On Tuesday, she felt relief that not only would the man convicted of her son’s death spend time in prison, he would also have to think about Elbaz.

“This is the life you took away from the family that is now fractured for the rest of their lives,” she said.

The Gwinnett County DA’s office has now secured four convictions through pleas for fentanyl related deaths. There are five more cases pending that have already been indicted, according to prosecutors.

“If you sell drugs in Gwinnett County and it leads to someone’s death, we’re going to pursue murder charges against you,” said Brandon Delfunt, Deputy Chief District Attorney.

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