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A Madison man was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation after pleading no contest to possession of a narcotic drug.

Marcel J. Taylor, 49, was originally charged with first-degree reckless homicide for contributing to the Feb. 14 fentanyl overdose death of Shannon D. Smith, 39, at a motel in Stoughton. The charge was dismissed Wednesday as part of a plea agreement in which the two years of probation was requested by prosecutors and Taylor’s lawyer.

Taylor was scheduled to go to trial next week on the homicide charge, but Assistant District Attorney Valerian Powell said that there would have been difficulty proving the case, which would have rested on circumstantial evidence requiring a jury to make inferences about that evidence.

The homicide charge and a drug delivery charge were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Taylor’s lawyer, Shaun O’Connell, said that Taylor and Smith were both drug users and were involved in a relationship at the time of her death. He said that Smith died alone in her motel room, and that the door had been dead-bolted from the inside. The following month, O’Connell said, Taylor himself overdosed.

“I loved Shannon Smith a whole lot,” Taylor said before he was sentenced by Circuit Judge John Hyland. “I miss her a lot. I’m sorry that she’s gone. I really do miss her.”

Hyland said he hoped that Taylor would honor Smith’s memory by staying clean, as he has done since his arrest.


Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.