A St. Paul man was sentenced to 18 years Monday for plotting the ambush shooting last year of his ex-girlfriend, a Minneapolis police crime scene investigator who narrowly survived and still has a bullet lodged between her ribs.
Timothy Amacher, 41, was sentenced in the attempted murder in April of Nicole Lenway, the mother of his son. Lenway was shot outside a Minneapolis child care center by Amacher's then girlfriend in a plot to gain full custody. A Hennepin County jury in November found Amacher guilty of aiding in first-degree attempted murder and aiding an accomplice after the fact.
His attorney, Larry Reed, asked District Judge Shereen Askalani for a judgment of acquittal and new trial, but Askalani denied both motions. She said there is a complete chain of 200 exhibits of evidence and 11 days of testimony that lead directly to Amacher's guilt.
"You have not taken any accountability, you have shown no remorse," Askalani said before reading the sentence, the maximum allowed under Minnesota guidelines.
Askalani also noted Amacher's escalating behavior toward Lenway, who testified that she endured years of harassment, stalking and attacks on her personal and professional life. Further, Askalani said, cellphone data, vehicle tracking information and surveillance videos proved to jurors that Amacher planned the attack.
Amacher, a Taekwondo master, had Colleen Purificacion Larson, 25, of Woodbury, use his truck and gun on April 20 to ambush Lenway outside FamilyWise, a center for supervised visits and safe exchanges.
Larson, who claims he pressured her into the shooting, is charged with attempted murder. Her trial set for last week was delayed, and she is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
Amacher met Larson while she was taking classes from him as a teenager.
Lenway and Amacher also met at his martial arts studio before they began dating and moved in together in 2013. She moved out in 2015 before finding out she was pregnant.
Two years later, when Lenway started dating Minneapolis police officer Donovan Ford — now her husband — Amacher began filing false reports of child abuse against the couple, including one case that went to trial in Ramsey County. Larson testified in support of Amacher at that trial, but a jury acquitted Lenway and she won sole custody.
"[Amacher] put these crimes into play after he was ordered by family court to only have supervised visits with his son," Askalani said.
Lenway testified her scars remind her daily of the shooting. She said she still experiences the burning sensation of the gunfire and the fear of being unable to speak or help herself after the bullet struck her vocal chords.
Her 911 call was full of gasps and gargles. A good Samaritan witnessed the shooting and swooped in to talk to dispatchers as Lenway fought for her life.
"I truly thought I was dying that day," she said. "But God had other plans for me. With his grace, I survived, and in spite of [Amacher] I will thrive. My life is not his to take, and he no longer has control over me."
As she stood before Amacher on Monday, flanked by Ford and a victim advocate, Lenway said she fears the day he is released. "Losing this battle will only fuel his rage further," she said.
"He claims to have done so much of this as a means to protect his son. It is clear he wasn't thinking about his son in this murderous plot," Lenway said. "When someone is willing to harm his own child and the mother of his child, it is safe to say there's no one he wouldn't harm. He is a detriment to society."
In an eight-minute written statement, Amacher said he can only be judged by God, and that the criminal justice system is broken and full of hypocrites. He called the trial a three-week "smear campaign," saying that of more than 100 witnesses, "not one person could say they saw me do anything."
He added that Hennepin County prosecutors decided that "if we make him look like a bad guy, he must be a bad guy."
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton told Askalani that "this case is the culmination of 10 years of hell for this victim," during which he said Amacher made at least two attempts to persuade someone to kill Lenway.
"This built and built up over time until the only way out that he saw was trying to have her killed," Lofton said.
Every month Amacher is incarcerated is another month that Lenway and her son are safe, Lofton said. Amacher is expected to serve 12 years in prison. By that time, the boy will be an adult.