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Once on this highway to hell, there are no easy exits

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Defense counsel David Tencza and client Gregory Collins in front of projector showing messages from the day of Robert Rawson's OD death. Inset, Peter Miltner (TRV), Robert Rawson (Courtesy) (Rochester Voice photo)

They may not have been his last words, but they were some of the last words he'll be remembered as saying before dying of a fentanyl overdose.

"We're ----ed up for doing this."

Those were the sentiments Robert Rawson and Peter Miltner shared together moments before snorting fentanyl inside Rawson's motel room on the afternoon of Feb. 15, 2018, Miltner said earlier this week during the trial of a Milton man charged in Rawson's death.

Miltner, 29, is already serving four to eight years for his part in delivering the fentanyl to Rawson, who died at the age of 28 leaving a wife and two young daughters.

Now prosecutors are trying to send a message that if you play any kind of role in delivering deadly narcotics to someone who dies, you may have to pay a heavy price.

During trial this week, prosecutors laid out what they believe happened in the hours leading up to Rawson's death using Facebook messages to support their accusation it was Gregory Collins, 38 of Lord Lane, Milton, who supplied the deadly dose to Miltner, the middleman.

But what was most poignant and heart wrenching about the digital evidence displayed in the courtroom was Rawson's apparent desperate attempts to secure a fix, offering up his last $20 given him by his mom so he could buy food.

Fresh off another rehab and suffering a full-blown relapse he begins messaging potential suppliers around noon.

"Is there anyway you can help me find anything if not it's ok and I'm sry (sic) to ask," he messages one.

After that connection says they have nothing, he moves quickly, methodically on to another, asking them, "Can you guys point me in the direction of getting I need a "40." (four tenths of a gram of fentanyl).

This connection, who tells Rawson she's not using anymore, is upset her friend is about to go off the wagon again.

"I have no idea I'm clean not (thought to mean now) and everyone is getting popped," she says, adding, "Why are you doing this again?"

Meanwhile, Rawson remained desperate for a fix. Finally, sadly, a connection was made.

At 1:32 p.m. Miltner answers Rawson's earlier call.

According to courtroom exhibits the messages are as follows:

12:05 p.m.

Rawson: What time you out of work?

1:32 p.m.

Miltner: I'm out

1:32 p.m.

Rawson: Can you help me again I'll hook you up

1:32 p.m.

Miltner: What you need

1:32 p.m.

Rawson: 40

1:33

Rawson: I'm at the greenwood inn

The two then allegedly discuss whether Rawson should walk down to Home Depot before Rawson suggests they come to his room at the Greenwood to which Miltner and Collins allegedly agree.

At 1:38 p.m., with Miltner on his way, the messages start anew.

Miltner: Been rough day thank god tomorrow is payday

1:39 p.m.

Rawson: I got you bro get you right

1:44 p.m.

Miltner: See you soon bro

1:44 p.m.

Rawson: Word you're the man

2:04 p.m.

Miltner: Almost there

Rawson's frenzied, desperate attempts to get his hand on some fentanyl were about to be realized.

He would soon have a final snort of fentanyl with his sometime friend and enabler Peter Miltner, and then soon after the husband and father who liked to work hard, listen to music and watch movies would be snuffed from this world far too soon.

So Miltner's in jail for up to eight years. Collins, who is awaiting his verdict, is facing up to life if found guilty. And Robert Edward Rawson II is dead far too soon.

We know in our hearts and minds that this is going on every day in Rochester, but this week's trial helps to put a human face on the problems of addiction, even among those like Rawson who were determined to quit but couldn't.

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