St. Paul man gets 18 years for attempted killing of ex-partner at parenting center

A Hennepin County judge on Monday sentenced a St. Paul man to 18 years of prison and supervised release for trying to kill his former partner outside a supervised parenting center last year.

A jury in November convicted Timothy A. Amacher, 41, of aiding and abetting attempted first-degree murder and aiding an offender after the fact. At Amacher’s sentencing hearing, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton said he’d hoped to request a lengthier prison term, but Minnesota law won’t allow it.

Authorities said in April 2022, Amacher directed his girlfriend, Colleen Larson, to kill Nicole Ford, then known as Nicole Lenway, as she arrived at FamilyWise, a supervised parenting center, to pick up the son whom Amacher and Ford share.

Ford has full custody of the 6-year-old boy, and a family court judge had restricted Amacher’s time with him to supervised visits.

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Larson, 25, allegedly drove Amacher’s truck to FamilyWise on University Avenue in Minneapolis, hid behind a fence, and shot Ford, 34, at point-blank range as she walked up to the building.

A bullet struck Ford’s neck, and she also suffered a through-and-through gunshot wound to her arm. Prosecutors said she suffered internal injuries including a perforated lung. When police initially interviewed Ford at Hennepin County Medical Center, she was unable to speak and answered investigators’ questions in writing. 

According to court documents, Amacher had made 10 reports to police that Ford and her new partner were abusing the child; all turned out to be unfounded. During one investigation, the boy told a social worker that Amacher had coached him to lie about being abused. One of the allegations went to trial, and Ford was acquitted. 

In court Monday, Ford said her physical scars remind her of the attack every day, and she continues to have nightmares about Amacher stalking her. 

“I still live in fear,” Ford said. “Fear that paralyzes me, wakes me up in a panic in the middle of the night. It is immobilizing.”

Ford said Amacher has harassed and stalked her for years, and he refused to let up even after prosecutors filed charges.

“Even throughout the proceedings of this trial, I’ve had to deal with his harassment from behind bars, to include further interrogations and repercussions in my profession due to his outright lies in an effort to slander and taint my reputation and to try to take whatever else he thinks he can from me,” Ford said.  

Ford has had a long career as a forensic scientist for the Minneapolis Police Department, but moved to Colorado for a short time because of the harassment. At trial, she said Amacher made a false report to MPD’s internal affairs office accusing her of fabricating evidence in the 2015 fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark in an attempt to damage her career.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton said he wanted to ask Judge Shereen Askalani to give Amacher consecutive sentences totaling 27 years for the two counts, but said a 2003 Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling prohibits judges from giving defendants consecutive sentences for both aiding and abetting a crime and aiding an offender of the same crime after the fact.

Lofton said an 18-year-sentence, the maximum under state guidelines, is the only way to ensure safety for Ford and her son after years of harassment and false child abuse allegations.

“This built and built up over time until the only way out that he saw was trying to have her killed,” Lofton said. “We have seen the lengths he will go to, and that’s why 216 months is appropriate.”  

Amacher, in a seven-minute prepared statement, continued to maintain his innocence and said that the government presented no evidence linking him to the crime.

“The prosecutor’s office did display a show of smoke and mirrors ending with an inference without any support, facts, or simply relying on just a smear campaign. So in other words, if we make him look like a bad guy, he must be a bad guy,” Amacher said.

Before Askalani sentenced Amacher, she said that he has neither shown remorse nor accepted accountability for his crimes.

“It appears that you have been promoting this false narrative about Ms. Ford for so long that you may actually believe it,” Askalani said.

Under Minnesota law, Amacher must serve two-thirds, or 12 years, of his sentence in prison before he’s eligible for supervised release. He received credit for the nine months that he’s already spent in jail.

Larson, the alleged shooter, is being prosecuted separately and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Friday.