Shooting survivor takes witness stand in murderous plot over custody dispute

A mother who survived a shooting with a bullet still lodged in her back, took the witness stand Monday in a closely watched trial involving a murderous plot over a years-long custody dispute.

Nicole Lenway, a forensic science supervisor for the Minneapolis Police Department, was shot multiple times in an ambush-style attack outside a parent resource center in April. She survived her injuries.

On trial is her ex-partner, Tim Amacher. Amacher is charged with aiding and abetting attempted first-degree murder. Authorities have said it was Amacher’s then-girlfriend Colleen Larson who pulled the trigger. Larson is charged separately and is scheduled for trial early next year. According to court documents, the couple plotted to kill Lenway because of the bitter dispute over the care and custody of Lenway and Amacher’s five-year-old son. Amacher allegedly masterminded the conspiracy.

Lenway was the only witness to take the stand Monday, the start of the second week of Amacher’s trial in Hennepin County District Court. Her riveting testimony kept jurors engaged all day long.

Lenway walked jurors through a tumultuous relationship with the father of their son. Both sides spent years accusing one another of abuse and maltreatment of the now five-year-old child. Lenway testified she became pregnant shortly after a breakup that saw her move out of their shared home. That led to a years-long fight custody fight that played out both in and out of court.

It came out in testimony that Larson had babysat the child.

On April 20, Lenway was ambushed outside Family Wise, a center in Minneapolis where estranged parents can safely transfer care of a child from one parent to the other. It was there where a female suspect, dressed in black, concealing her identity ran up on Lenway from behind.

The shooting was captured on surveillance video.

On the witness stand, Lenway recalled the female shooter standing over her. She was unable to make a 100% identification, only able to tell the jury, it was a woman who shot her. Lenway was struck multiple times. One bullet tore into her neck and remains lodged in her back between two ribs.

At one point, the injuries were thought to be life-threatening. Doctors didn’t know if she would ever talk again.

Lenway has made a remarkable recovery over the last 7 months, but one thing she cannot do anymore is sing. Her vocal cords are still not strong enough. And that is something she testified, she loved to do before the attack.

"At this point, I am just lucky to be alive and happy I can talk," Lenway testified under direct examination.

Amacher’s defense attorney Larry Reed on cross-examination questioned Lenway about her investigative work on the 2015 Jamar Clark police shooting case. The defense has suggested Lenway told Amacher, she tampered with evidence from the scene in her role as a forensic scientist.

Prosecutors have countered that these are bogus allegations from an ugly break-up and a back-and-forth custody fight. An effort by Amacher to damage Lenway’s reputation and career, out of spite.

An MPD spokesman told FOX 9’s Paul Blume, there are no records, files, or complaints to suggest any Lenway misconduct for her actions in the Clark case. 

Witness testimony is scheduled to resume in the Amacher trial Tuesday morning.