They were two women with little in common beyond their drug of choice.
And prosecutors say their encounter proved this: Drugs and guns are a toxic mix.
On Nov. 30, 2013, LaToya Ross had been on a methamphetamine binge — in a state of full panic and paranoia.
She accused Dawn Truman of being a snitch at a party at a house near 36th and Parker Streets that was known for meth binges.
Prosecutor Jim Masteller said the “snitch” accusation wasn’t rooted in reality; it was rooted in Ross’ rampant meth use.
Nonetheless, Ross pulled out a .40-caliber gun and shot Truman in the chest. Her heart pierced with a single bullet, Truman, 41, died on the couch.
A year and two days later, a judge sentenced Ross, 31, on Tuesday to 50 to 70 years in prison for second-degree murder. Under Douglas County District Judge J Russell Derr’s sentence, Ross won’t be eligible for parole until she’s 55. She faced anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.
Ross had virtually no criminal record. Her biggest warts before Truman’s murder were a petty theft and a shoplifting conviction.
Ross was immediately remorseful. After she came down from her meth high, she confessed to the killing to Omaha police. Originally charged with first-degree murder, she pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in a plea bargain.
Her attorney, Matt Kahler, asked for the minimum sentence — noting her record and the fact that the killing was fueled by her drug use. Kahler said Ross was so high when police made contact with her that she didn’t know how to use her phone to call relatives.
“She wouldn’t be here but for her methamphetamine use,” Kahler said. “Unfortunately, everyone involved in this, including the victim, were using methamphetamine. And Ms. Ross was paranoid.”
Tuesday, she was simply full of grief.
“I just want to apologize for the heartache and pain this has caused,” she told Derr. “I just want all of us to pray for Dawn.”
Masteller said Truman’s mother — Barb Browne of Pilger, Nebraska — was so torn up by her daughter’s death that she couldn’t bear to relive it in court.
“She loved her daughter very much,” Masteller told the judge. “She found participating in the system just too painful for her.
“It is extremely unfortunate when we all see the deadly combination of drugs and guns resulting in horrific consequences. This loss of life is completely unnecessary.”
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