A man accused of dealing a synthetic drug that killed a Montana State University student at a Bozeman music venue in 2016 is scheduled to change his plea and be sentenced in the case.

According to his attorney, Daniel McGrail will plead guilty to one count of felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs at a hearing on April 10 before Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown.

McGrail is accused of giving U-47700, or “euphoria,” to Geoffrey Qualls. Qualls then shared the drug with 20-year-old Natalie Dietrich, who died of an overdose after ingesting the drug in a bathroom at Faultline North on the night of Jan. 30, 2016.

“There was never any ill intention for anything bad to happen to anyone. They were just young people out wanting to have a good time,” said Al Avignone, one of McGrail’s defense attorneys. “This has been a tragedy all around.”

At sentencing, the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office will recommend that McGrail receive a fully suspended three-year sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections and pay a $2,500 fine to the Missouri River Drug Task Force, Avignone said.

Avignone said the defense will argue for a deferred sentence.

Qualls, who was also initially charged with felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, later pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs. He received a three-year deferred sentence and was ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

According to charging documents:

Shortly after midnight on Jan. 30, 2016, emergency responders went to Faultline North, a music venue on Gallatin Park Drive, for the report of a woman who wasn’t breathing and a man who was struggling to breathe.

They found Qualls and Dietrich being given CPR on the floor of a handicap bathroom at the venue. While medics tended to Qualls, a Bozeman officer found a small plastic bag with a white powdery substance and a brown pill container on Qualls.

Qualls was taken to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, but Dietrich died at the scene.

Qualls told investigators he got the drug from McGrail. McGrail told investigators that he had consumed the drug at Faultline North that night and admitted that he gave the pill container with the drug to Qualls.

McGrail’s defense team tried to get the case dismissed, arguing that the state’s affidavit of probable cause didn’t have sufficient facts to charge McGrail. McGrail believed “euphoria” was legal and told other people it was, they argued.

They also argued that the affidavit doesn’t identify which illegal drug “euphoria” was alleged to be an analogue of, “making preparation of a defense not feasible.”

However, Judge Brown denied the defense’s motions. The defense later asked for the Montana Supreme Court to intervene, but justices opted not to, ruling that Brown did not err when denying the defense’s motions to dismiss.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

Whitney Bermes covers cops and courts for the Chronicle.

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