She sat, quiet and wide-eyed, as she listened to attorneys recount her robbery gone wrong.
Prosecutor Eric Wells noted that the girl in the fifth-floor courtroom was the second teen he had seen sentenced in the past two weeks for devising a robbery that turned deadly.
Last time, it was over pot. Tyon Wells, 14 at the time of the killing, was sentenced Jan. 30 to 22 to 45 years in prison for second-degree murder in the February 2018 death of Zachary Parker, 18.
This time, it was over sex.
Tyjanae Allen, 18 at the time, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder in the November 2017 death of Julio Cesar-Ortega, 29.
Allen and a co-conspirator, Govenor Tate, hatched a plan on Nov. 8, 2017: Use Facebook to lure Cesar-Ortega to Allen on the pretense that Cesar-Ortega would pay her for sex.
Allen and Cesar-Ortega had agreed on a price: $200. In fact, Cesar-Ortega had flashed five $100 bills earlier that day and told co-workers he was going to meet a woman that night.
After Allen got in the car with Cesar-Ortega, she began texting Tate. Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Matt Miller, said Allen was nervous and skittish. She had never robbed anyone, he said, and didn’t know what to do.
Then came texts from Tate: “Get that money. I gave you a knife for a reason.” And this: “Grab it and go.”
Allen couldn’t bring herself to do it, so she and Cesar-Ortega stayed in the car for at least two hours, Miller said. In time, Cesar-Ortega realized that Allen planned to rob him.
Finally, Allen swiped the knife at Cesar-Ortega, plunging it into his biceps.
Police said Cesar-Ortega threw something at Allen and drove off with her in the car. Allen was texting Tate and her mother that Cesar-Ortega planned to drive her to the police station and wouldn’t let her out of the car, Omaha Police Detective Derek Mois has said.
She then jumped from the vehicle and returned home.
Soon after, at 11:09 p.m., Allen messaged Cesar-Ortega, saying that if he didn’t bring her the money, she would call police and say that he attempted to rape her.
Cesar-Ortega had driven to the police station, bleeding profusely from his arm. He bled to death in his car, in the parking lot outside the station. Wells, the prosecutor, said the stab wound hit an artery in Cesar-Ortega’s arm.
At the time, Cesar-Ortega worked at a car wash and had a wife and a 10-year-old daughter, but apparently was living a double life. He had two cellphones and multiple Facebook accounts, Mois has said.
Wells, the prosecutor, said his death has been devastating to his family. His daughter, now 11, wrote a letter to the judge, describing her bewilderment at being called to the school office, only to be told that her dad had died.
“I lost my heart,” she wrote.
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Tate is awaiting sentencing for his role in the crime.
Under state law, which cuts most sentences in half, Allen will serve 10 years before she is eligible for parole. Absent parole, she’ll serve 20 years.
Douglas County District Judge Russell Bowie could have sentenced Allen to anywhere from 20 years to life in prison after her plea to second-degree murder.
Allen’s family called out, “We love you, Ty” as she was led out of the courtroom to jail. A relative, a young woman in the front row of the courtroom, began crying.
“My God,” she screamed, sobbing.
The crying didn’t relent. Over the next 5 minutes, her wails bounced off the walls of the halls of justice.