Victim's mom asked for leniency, but a plea deal mandated the term.
The mother of a young man who died after taking a synthetic drug sought leniency for the person who provided it, but an Anoka County judge, while noting the tragedy of the case, imposed the 10-year sentence dictated by a plea deal.
Judge Alan Pendleton made clear that a remorseful Timothy LaMere, who had pleaded guilty to supplying the drug that killed his friend Trevor Robinson at a party last year, wasn't going to prison because he was a bad person. Rather, Pendleton said, he was sentencing LaMere to the maximum state sentence because of past convictions involving drugs and because of the reckless manner in which he handed out the 2C-E drug without thinking about the consequences.
"If you want to honor Trevor's life, take advantage of all the educational opportunities in prison," Pendleton told LaMere, 22.
"When you walk out of prison, you will have a powerful story to tell, and you may save countless lives in the future."
The judge's words brought an end to the high-profile case that heightened national awareness about the dangers of synthetic drugs, which can be purchased easily off the Internet, with buyers never knowing exactly what they're getting. The case also brought a letter from federal prosecutors pressuring LaMere to accept a plea deal or face the threat of federal charges and a more stringent sentence.
'Sorry with all my heart'
During Tuesday's sentencing, LaMere told Pendleton that he was "sorry with all my heart" about Robinson's death and that "if there was any way I could change what happened, I would."
Jill Robinson, Trevor Robinson's mother, was too distraught to attend the hearing but had prosecutor Paul Young read a victim impact statement.
"I know in my heart Tim loved Trevor and he loved Tim as well," her statement said. "Tim is not a criminal. He is a very young man that made bad choices."
Trevor Robinson died at an area hospital after taking 2C-E at a party in Blaine in March 2011. Ten others who took it became ill. LaMere, of Blaine, was charged with felony third-degree murder.
The U.S. attorney's office sent the letter to the Anoka County attorney's office last October, saying that it might pursue charges against LaMere if local authorities didn't cut a deal with him that included a maximum prison sentence. The nearly 10-year term is the longest allowed by the state's sentencing guidelines for third-degree murder; federal penalties would have required at least 20 years.
LaMere's parents attended Tuesday's hearing but declined to comment.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said afterward that his office already had offered LaMere the plea agreement that he eventually accepted before the federal letter arrived.
"There is no triumph ... in this sentence, but only great sadness," Palumbo said. "Experimenting with dangerous drugs can lead to a result that no one intends. Unfortunately, the worst result happened here."
In her statement, Robinson said her son's death caused such extreme depression that she found it difficult to leave her home. She said she had to drop out of college, and she lost her car and residence.
"I can't seem to think of anything else except he is gone and it is not fair," she said.
Brad Zunker, LaMere's attorney, said Robinson's death wasn't what LaMere envisioned when he ordered the drugs. He talked about LaMere's effort to help police when he saw people getting sick after taking the drug, "but it just turned into a horrible tragedy."
"It was so simple. You find a website, order the drugs and they come in the mail," Zunker said. "Just a few clicks on a mouse and the drugs are delivered to your house."
At one point Tuesday, Pendleton sighed as he discussed the devastation brought by LaMere's actions. While he listened intently to Robinson's letter, he was resolute.
In her statement, Jill Robinson had said she "really didn't think putting Tim behind bars is the answer."
"I have said all along that an intensive treatment would be much more effective than putting him in the system," she said.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465