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HomeNews2 Charged in Fentanyl-Related Death Under Georgia’s New ‘Austin’s Law’

2 Charged in Fentanyl-Related Death Under Georgia’s New ‘Austin’s Law’


The recent death of John Paul Cates in Waynesboro has led to the arrests of two Waynesboro suspects using Georgia’s newly enacted “Austin’s Law.”

Charlie Wren Daniel, 43, and John Ryan Phillips, 32, both residents of Waynesboro, have been charged following an investigation into Cates’ drug overdose death, according to Col. Jimmy Wylds with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

“Austin’s Law,” signed by Governor Kemp on April 30, is a landmark legislation aimed at holding individuals accountable for fentanyl-related deaths. Named in memory of Austin Walters, a fentanyl overdose victim, the law establishes felony charges for those who unintentionally cause death by manufacturing or distributing substances containing fentanyl, misrepresenting them as controlled substances.

John Paul Cates, 36, was found deceased on May 28 at his residence on 509 Pine Needle Road, Waynesboro. He is suspected to have died from an overdose. The subsequent investigation led by BCSO Sgt. Cameron Hampton resulted in the arrest and charging of Daniel and Phillips.

Charlie Wren Daniel faces multiple charges:

Aggravated involuntary manslaughter causing fentanyl overdose death.

Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Four counts of possession of a Schedule II drug with intent to distribute (Fentanyl, Hydrocodone 10 mg, Amphetamine/Dextromethamphetamine 30 mg, and Hydrocodone 5 mg).

One count of possession of a Schedule IV drug with intent to distribute (Alprazolam 1 mg).

John Ryan Phillips has been charged with:

Aggravated involuntary manslaughter causing a fentanyl overdose.

Additional charges may follow as the investigation continues, Col. Wylds said.

“Austin’s Law” signifies Georgia’s firm stance against the catastrophic impact of fentanyl and those who illegally distribute it. The law aims to curb the surge in opioid-related fatalities by imposing severe penalties on those implicated in fentanyl-related deaths, thereby protecting communities across the state.

Online, John Paul Cates was remembered by family and friends, including friend Will Lumpkin who posted this heartfelt message:

“REST IN PEACE to a dear friend of mine that passed away a couple of days ago. J.P was a country boy with a big smile that lit up every room he walked into. We shared a room together for several months a few years ago, and he impacted my life in a big way. He was a Christian and now in Heaven with God Almighty, which brings me some comfort, but it still makes me sad that I lost another friend. Addiction is NOTHING to mess around with folks. Please keep his family in your prayers as he had children. I’ll see you when I get there bro!”

Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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