Kristopher Winters was chosen as the target of a drug rip — or robbery — because he was vulnerable and wouldn't fight back, according to a homicide detective's testimony Wednesday.
But when four men entered Winters' house near 51st and U Streets, a struggle ensued, said Omaha Police Detective Dan Martin.
Gang members Ryan Elseman and Marqus A. Patton pistol-whipped Winters, who at some point grabbed a chair to fend them off. Elseman opened fire to deliver the fatal gunshot.
Martin based his testimony on interviews with two suspects in Winters' homicide and friends of the other co-defendants.
Martin said Elseman, 19, and Patton, 21, were beating Winters. At some point, Patton ordered Elseman to shoot. Patton's gun was either empty or was a fake, Martin said.
Elseman pulled the trigger on his .22 caliber revolver. It "clicked," so he fired again, shooting Winters in the back of the neck. The bullet went out through his chin, according to testimony.
Elseman, Patton, Nicholas J. Ely, 20, and Drake A. Northrop, 22, each were ordered on Wednesday to stand trial for first-degree murder. They appeared before Douglas County Judge Joseph Caniglia.
Emily Gusman, 15, is the fifth suspect charged with first-degree murder. Her case is pending in district court.
Gusman and Northrop have been cooperating with investigators, although their stories differ a bit. Gusman said the robbery plan was hatched on the way to Winters' home. Gusman has said she doesn't know who devised the plan because she was on the phone at the time.
Northrop has told investigators that the robbers made their plan at Ely's house about a half hour before it went down and that Ely and Patton were the ones planning "the lick," slang for a drug robbery.
Northrop also identified Elseman as the shooter, Martin said.
Gusman claimed she was hiding in a corner in the basement, where the shooting happened. She told investigators that she didn't see who fired.
Gusman described her role in the robbery as a pot buyer whose job was to get in the house and text Elseman about the number of people inside.
Another buyer was in the basement with Winters, Martin said. That man told police he couldn't identify the shooter.
Despite Gusman's and Northrop's claims, Martin said others have claimed the drug robbery may have been planned for at least a month. Three of the four suspects identify themselves as Omaha Mafia Blood gang members.
Winters' ex-girlfriend told detectives she had discussed Winters' pot dealing with her fellow gang members. The men asked her to act as a decoy so they could rob him, but she told police that she declined.
Gusman had told people that she bought pot from Winters in the past. The night before the robbery, Gusman partied with Ely, Patton and Elseman. Once in the house, she texted Elseman and the four men followed her, Martin testified.
After the shooting, the men left in Northrop's car and Gusman walked away.
Martin said phone records show that Elseman texted Gusman, asking if she had anyone who could "swoop her up." He then texted her with a phone number of another man, told her to stay at a nearby Taco Bell.
Elseman texted that "police were flying all over" and that Winters' mom, who was home at the time, had seen their car. He texted her to not snitch.
Police arrived and took the other pot buyer in for questioning. While driving there, the man saw Gusman standing at the Taco Bell at 48th and L Streets Police used Facebook to link Elseman to Gusman.
The other pot buyer told police that Winters was able to talk after the shooting. His last words: "I think I'm dying."
When police later searched Winters' home, they found the pot the suspects were after - less than an ounce.
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