A Woodbury woman pleaded guilty Friday to attempted first-degree murder as she admitted to ambushing a Minneapolis police forensic scientist, shooting her multiple times outside a child-care center in a scheme to gain her boyfriend full custody of his son.
Colleen Purificacion Larson, 25, waived her right to a jury trial in Hennepin County District Court just four days after her ex-boyfriend, Timothy Amacher, 41, was sentenced to 18 years for helping plot and cover up the shooting of Nicole Lenway, the mother of his son. They had been fighting a bitter, yearslong child custody battle, which ultimately led to bloodshed on April 20.
"I ran up behind her and pulled the gun," Larson said in court Friday. Asked how many times she fired at Lenway, Larson said that she "wasn't counting." After Lenway dropped to the ground, she said, "I continued to fire."
Larson's attorneys, James Gempeler and Daniel Adkins, are asking District Judge Shereen Askalani for probation with her plea. Prosecutors did not say what sentence or conditions they are seeking for Larson. Askalani will announce the sentence March 27.
Askalani asked Larson to explain what led up to the shooting, how Amacher influenced her to carry out the attack, and how she decided to involve herself in the conspiracy to kill Lenway.
Larson said that Amacher told her when she could expect to find Lenway outside Family Wise, the supervised visitation facility in Minneapolis for families in shared custody. She said she knew that Lenway brought her son there every other Wednesday for Amacher's supervised visits, and that Lenway arrived 15 minutes before picking her son up.
She said she intended to kill Lenway to benefit Amacher. "He was upset with court and how custody wasn't going very well," Larson said.
"He just wanted her to be gone so that he could be with his son," Larson said.
Larson said that Amacher suggested she wear all black clothing the day of the shooting, and told her one of his small handguns would be easiest for her to use. They determined Larson should drive his newer black truck because it didn't have license plates.
"He had an inkling that I would," Larson said of shooting Lenway. "But it wasn't a for-sure thing. ... I was debating whether I wanted to actually do it or not."
She said after the shooting she never discussed anything with Amacher. She said that she showered and disposed of her clothes and that Amacher took care of the gun, which was never found in the investigation.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton asked the judge to place Larson in custody without bail until sentencing. But Larson, who already posted $300,000 bail, will remain on electronic home monitoring.
A jury convicted Amacher in November following a trial that saw 200 pieces of evidence and 11 days of testimony, including from Lenway.
Lenway was shot multiple times, once in the neck, and a bullet remains lodged between her ribs. She told Askalani during Amacher's sentencing on Monday that she believed she was dying that day and would never see her son again.
She was intubated in the hospital for days, communicating with detectives and attorneys on written pieces of paper. She has since returned to work at the Minneapolis Police Department. Weeks before Amacher's trial, she married a Minneapolis police officer.
Lenway said that she and her son are left with the trauma of Amacher's cruelty and manipulation. She said he used her son "as a pawn in his skewed vendetta against me."
"Taking advantage of a child's love for his own perceived gain, revenge was of the utmost importance to him, even if it meant a lifetime of damage and confusion for his own innocent child."