Sheriff Roybal, District Attorney Allen Celebrate Landmark Verdict in Jail Fentanyl Distribution Case

Nov 15, 2023 - 8:00am

Yesterday, saw a landmark verdict in El Paso County, after a jury found Katariina Gibson (1/16/1996) guilty of Proximate Cause of Death by Unlawful Distribution, C.R.S. 18-18-405, Drug Felony 1; and Introducing Contraband in the 2nd Degree, C.R.S. 18-8-204, Felony 6.

An investigation launched by El Paso County Sheriff Joseph Roybal linked Gibson to the death of her cellmate, 44-year-old Renee Lowrance, on January 20, 2023. Lowrance was found unresponsive in her assigned cell at the El Paso County Jail and her death was determined to have been caused by fentanyl intoxication.

Sheriff Roybal coordinated his investigative efforts in collaboration with the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Metro Vice Narcotics and Criminal Intelligence Units, to identify the fentanyl supplier.

“Ms. Lowrance was in my jail, but she is a victim,” said Sheriff Roybal. “It is my duty to protect the life, liberty, and the constitutional rights of all citizens. I hope today’s verdict sends a strong, resounding message, if you bring illicit drugs and contraband into my jail, you will be held accountable. I thank the members of our Office and law enforcement partners, who worked diligently to build and solve this important case, as well as District Attorney Allen, and the 4thJudicial District Attorney’s Office, for their collaborative efforts and our strong partnership. Together, Michael and I are working to keep the citizens of this community safe, including those incarcerated in our Jail.”

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with District Attorney Michael Allen and the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, with the support of state legislation introduced in 2022, which makes it unlawful to possess more than four grams of fentanyl, to work proactively to prevent further harm from affecting this community.

“People who distribute narcotics are dealing death,” said District Attorney Allen. “That’s why my office is focused on dedicating resources and efforts in order to successfully prosecute this case and others like it.”

The victory of this historic case, from investigation to guilty verdict, exemplifies the high standards and dedication both Sheriff Roybal and District Attorney Allen hold for their offices.

If you distribute fentanyl anywhere in the 4th Judicial District, you will be held accountable,” said District Attorney Allen.

Sheriff Roybal maintains a zero-tolerance policy for illicit drugs in his jail and is unwavering in his commitment to this policy. 

“Our sincere, continued condolences to Ms. Lowrance's family and friends. We hope today’s verdict brings closure and peace,” said Sheriff Roybal and District Attorney Allen.

Gibson is set to appear in El Paso County District Court on January 31 for sentencing.




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