JOSHUA TREE, Calif. (AP) - A jury convicted a man Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder for supplying the designer drug GHB to a teen-ager who died of an overdose.
Lindley Troy Geborde, 30, of Los Angeles, faces up to four years in prison for giving the drug to Lucas Bielat, 15, at a desert rave party and failing to warn him of the dangers.
San Bernardino County prosecutors had charged Geborde with second-degree murder.
Deputy District Attorney David W. Simon said he was disappointed with the verdict because he believed he proved the elements of murder.
However, one juror told KCDZ radio: ''We hated to convict him, but we had to follow the law.''
Defense attorney Frank Peasley argued Geborde's actions did not amount to murder and the dangers of GHB have been exaggerated.
Bielat died Jan 13, 1996, after drinking gamma hydroxybutrate or GHB, a drug known for an intoxicating effect that users say is similar to liquor without the hangover. It's also known as a date rape drug because of its ability to incapacitate people, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault.
Although three men in Michigan were convicted of manslaughter earlier this year in the death of a girl who drank a beverage mixed with GHB, the California case marked the first time someone was tried for implied malice in connection with such a death.
Investigators suspect Geborde was the leading force in introducing GHB in Joshua Tree, a community of 8,600 people about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.
Although he had allegedly warned people at previous parties before to take only two or three capfuls of the concoction, the night Bielat died Geborde said nothing, Simon said.
Witnesses said Bielat chugged the drink and then passed out. Hours later, they say Bielat turned blue and his feet began to curl from the cold.