MINNEAPOLIS — It's a pairing that senior assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton called a "twisted romantic relationship" in court Tuesday, referring to Colleen Larson, 24, and her 41-year-old former Taekwondo instructor Tim Amacher, whom she met as a student at age 13, moved in with at age 18 and started officially dating last year.
They're both charged with first-degree premeditated attempted murder after Amacher's ex-girlfriend, Nicki Lenway — a Minneapolis police crime scene investigator — was shot several times in the parking lot of a supervised parenting center.
New details unveiled in court and in a recently filed document reveal Larson made several admissions in a jailhouse interview with police, prosecutors and her lawyer present, but at the same time, seems somewhat determined to divert blame from Amacher.
The new information was made public after Amacher's attorney asked the judge to dismiss charges against his client because of a technicality, claiming the charging document did not contain probable cause that Amacher committed a crime.
The state's response includes information from Larson's "extremely emotional" May 24 interview, in which she admitted she was the shooter and that she and Amacher discussed killing Lenway a week or two before the shooting.
According to the court document, Larson and Amacher discussed the topic of getting married and whether Amacher would let Larson adopt the child he shares with Lenway. Amacher told her Lenway would never let that happen, but if Lenway "were not around," he would allow it.
"Later, Amacher asked Larson if she 'felt comfortable' doing it, and if she could be the one to 'pull the trigger,'" the document says. "She stated that Amacher told her which gun to use."
Larson told authorities that after the shooting, she cut up the clothes she had worn and gave the gun to Amacher, who indicated he would get rid of it.
In Tuesday's hearing, Amacher's attorney Larry Reed revealed Larson also said she didn't believe she was being manipulated. She told police she tried to kill Lenway "for Amacher's son," that he should not be charged, and that he did not know she was committing the crime.
Amacher was inside the supervised parenting center when the shooting happened. Lenway was there to pick up their son in a designated spot when Amacher's supervised visit finished.
Prosecutor Lofton wrote in the court document that he believes Amacher groomed Larson.
"His significantly younger and disturbingly loyal former pupil... used her to make sure the crime was committed when he would have a rock-solid alibi," his statement read.
When Larson moved in with Amacher at age 18, she babysat the child Amacher shared with Lenway, and said he paid her in "personal training."
Throughout the bitter custody dispute between Amacher and Lenway, Amacher has made accusations — determined by police and court officials to be unfounded — that Lenway was abusing their child.
Larson played a role in filing at least one of those reports, and when the last one was deemed unfounded, a judge reduced Amacher's contact with the child to only supervised visits.
In her emotional interview with police, Larson "outlined how long she has helped Amacher with his custody battle and how he needed someone in his corner."
Prosecutors noted evidence of Larson's intent to kill Lenway from surveillance video of the crime that shows Larson firing multiple shots at close range, and continuing to fire after Lenway got up and tried to run away.
Lenway has since been released from the hospital and continues her recovery.
Regarding Amacher's attorney's motion to dismiss the charges, Judge Shereen Askalani did not seem at all inclined to do so, but said she will make her ruling later in writing.
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