LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 21-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole on Thursday after pleading guilty to the death of a Las Vegas mother of four who was targeted in a neighborhood cul-de-sac last year.
Erich Milton Nowsch Jr. left the courtroom sobbing after he was sentenced for second-degree murder for the death of Tammy Meyers, 44, in February 2015. The case was initially cast as road rage while Myers taught her 15-year-old daughter to drive in a school parking lot, but authorities later attributed it to a series of misunderstandings and parties mistakenly identifying each other.
"My intentions were to take someone bad out, not a loving, caring mom," Nowsch said in a nearly three-hour taped interview last year obtained by The Associated Press. "My intention was to take someone who was going to hurt my family out, not someone's mom, not Tammy."
Nowsch will be eligible for parole after 10 years, but also must serve at least four more years for a weapons enhancement.
"Am I going to forgive you? Never. Ever," Meyers' widower, Robert Meyers, told the defendant at the hearing. "I hope for me and mine that you burn in hell and you get what you have coming to you today, because you, mister, are an animal."
Nowsch tried earlier this month to withdraw his guilty plea, but was denied. He requested Thursday that his sentencing be delayed because he didn't have enough time to prepare, but District Judge Michael Villani denied that too, saying the killing stemmed from "one of the worst chain of events this community has seen."
Getaway driver Derrick Andrews, 28, was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and accessory to murder.
The Feb. 12 shooting appears to have resulted from a series of tragic coincidences. Investigators believe Meyers was shot outside her home after an initial confrontation with another driver.
That night, she was teaching her teenage daughter how to drive in a parking lot when that driver, who has never been found or identified, apparently threatened to kill the mother and daughter. Meyers' family said she was upset and afraid when she dropped her daughter off and picked up her son, who came armed with a gun.
They drove around the neighborhood to confront that driver. Meanwhile, Nowsch said he had been walking in a park when he noticed a car following him. He was on edge because he had been dodging death threats linked to drug deals and street disputes and wanted to protect himself and his mother, baby sister and cat, Nowsch told detectives in the taped interview.
He said he called a friend to pick him up.
Nowsch said he tried to scare off the car following them by flashing his gun, but he got upset when he saw the car near his house.
Nowsch said he didn't remember exactly what happened next but that he fired several bullets at a car in one location before ending up in the cul-de-sac, where he emptied an entire clip.
His account differs from that of authorities, who say Nowsch fired several shots at the Meyers' car before chasing her to her home, where the mother got out of the car and was fatally shot in the head. Meyers' son also shot back at one point, but he wasn't injured, authorities say.
The police recording also included a call Nowsch made to his mother.
"The only reason I confessed, Mom, was because they knew everything," he said. "They knew it was an accident."