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Pair indicted in Fargo musician's death

Cody Conner

FARGO - A Fargo man and a Grand Forks woman could face life in prison after pleading not guilty on Tuesday to federal charges alleging they distributed the heroin that killed a Fargo blues guitarist.

A federal grand jury has indicted Nathan William Evenson, 27, of Fargo, and Nicole Marie Wadsworth, 24, of Grand Forks, in connection with the death of Cody Conner, who died June 6 at the age of 30.

Wadsworth and Evenson pleaded not guilty to their respective charges in U.S. District Court of North Dakota in Fargo on Tuesday.

A federal indictment alleges that Wadsworth distributed heroin to Conner around the date of June 6 and the use of that substance resulted in his death.

Both Wadsworth and Evenson are also charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and actually distributing a controlled substance resulting in death.

Federal court records allege they attempted to conceal their activities and that one or both of them brought heroin to Fargo-Moorhead from the Minneapolis area. The drug distribution allegations stretch from January 2011 to July 2012, the indictment alleges.

If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison with a maximum fine of $1 million. They face a minimum sentence of 20 years.

At their plea hearing on Tuesday, Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Klein told them if they have prior felony-level drug charges, the penalty increases to a mandatory life sentence with a fine of $2 million.

Evenson has a prior conviction in Cass County District Court for felony possession of cocaine in 2009. A felony distribution of cocaine charge against him the same year was dismissed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers asked that both Evenson and Wadsworth be held in jail until their trial, calling them flight risks and dangerous to the community.

Both are being held in Cass County Jail until their detention hearings to be held within a week, which will determine whether they will be held until their trial.

Their trial is scheduled to start Dec. 11.

Conner was perhaps best known as the guitarist in local blues jam bands Moody River Band and Bad Mojo. The Moody River Band opened for blues legend Buddy Guy last winter at The Venue.

A month after his death, an outpouring of local musicians held a series of memorial concerts across several downtown bars in his honor.