The way Drake Northrop describes it, the robbery was nothing more than an afterthought.
Northrop was going to take four young people — including a 15-year-old girl and a few members of the Omaha Mafia Bloods gang — to a swimming pool.
Then they decided to “stop and pick up some weed” at the home of marijuana dealer Kristopher Winters.
Then they thought: Why not rob Winters?
The source of that idea, according to Northrop, was the people in the back seat of his car: Nicholas Ely, Ryan Elseman and then-15-year-old Emily Gusman.
Gusman “was stating that (Winters) would give everything up, that he wouldn't fight back,” Northrop testified Friday. “She really was just talking about how easy this would be — that it would just be quick and easy.”
It was anything but.
Northrop took the stand Friday in co-defendant Marqus Patton's first-degree murder trial and related the chaos that ensued on July 6, 2011.
Prosecutors called Northrop, their star witness, one day after calling Gusman, the seemingly skittish girl who could barely recount any details of that day.
By contrast, the 23-year-old Northrop was deliberate and descriptive, giving a blow-by-blow account of the deadly robbery.
Northrop was going to pick up a couple of friends and a few people he didn't know to take them to the swimming pool at the apartment complex of Patton's mother.
Before taking a pool plunge, Northrop said, word came from the back seat that they should try to “hit a lick.”
Translation: “Commit a robbery.”
Gusman had Winters in mind. She said she had bought marijuana from him a couple of months before and believed he wouldn't resist.
Northrop said she directed him to Winters' house.
Northrop drove. Patton sat in the passenger seat. Northrop said neither he nor Patton took part in the robbery discussion.
Northrop said he dropped off Gusman, then parked the car down the block.
All five of them walked up to the door, bent on kicking it down and storming the place, Northrop said.
“Then logic kicked in,” he said.
They would use Gusman to get inside. Then she would send Elseman a text, letting them know when they could come in.
Soon after, Gusman sent the text: “I'm in.”
Moments later, the four men stormed the basement. And the robbery turned into a ruckus.
Winters rushed at the robbers, wrestling with Elseman, the alleged gunman.
Northrop said Patton started pistol-whipping Winters, who stumbled back, grabbed a chair and came back at Patton.
Patton “was kind of pinned,” Northrop said.
So Patton yelled at Elseman to shoot.
Elseman pulled the trigger of his revolver, Northrop said. It clicked.
He pulled it again — firing off a round that ripped through Winters' neck and out his chin. The bullet struck Winters' carotid artery, causing the 25-year-old to bleed to death.
The robbers bolted. Northrop said they ran to his car around the corner. As they hopped in, he said, Patton started freaking out.
Patton “was yelling, ‘I got hit! I got hit!' ” Northrop said. “He pulled up his shirt and there was a little blood there. It wasn't bleeding bad. It was like a graze.”
Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley suggested that Northrop was minimizing his role in order to curry favor from prosecutors.
Northrop acknowledged that he was hoping to get his first-degree murder charges reduced to being an accessory. Gusman, meanwhile, hopes to get her case transferred to juvenile court.
Riley also pointed out that Northrop had just been placed on parole after being imprisoned earlier for assault.
He argued that Northrop was trying to embellish his accounts in order to diminish his prison time — an assertion that Northrop denied.
“Do you hope to get one year in prison?” he asked.
“That would be nice,” Northrop said.
Patton's trial is expected to close early next week. Ely and Elseman are awaiting trial.
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