A Duluth woman convicted of third-degree murder was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for her role in a Moose Lake woman's drug overdose death.
In August, Dawn Marie Clemons, 41, pleaded guilty for her role in the August 2018 drug death of Leah Michele Olsen, 38. In the Carlton County Courthouse on Monday, Sixth Judicial District Judge Robert Macaulay declined her probation request and sentenced her to 60 months in prison, with around 17 months credited for time served.
Clemons is eligible for release after 40 months, with the remaining 20 being served in supervised release.
After hearing her sentence, Clemons put her head down on the table and sobbed. When approached by sheriff's deputies, she yelled out to the room: "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry everyone."
Olsen's family and friends, upon hearing the sentence, could be heard exclaiming "Yes!" It's a group who minutes before the sentencing shared how Olsen — and her death — impacted their lives.
Her family will remember Olsen's humor, love of music and how she interacted with her son.
Carolyn Lewis, Olsen's mother, told the court that she has moved away from Moose Lake. Her memories of Olsen in the city were too painful to bear.
Lewis added that she doesn't listen to the radio anymore, as she fears hearing a song that reminds her of Olsen.
"Every day without Leah is painful. ... My world crashed on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018," Lewis said in her tearful speech. "Every Sunday ... I'm haunted with memories of her."
Her son shared that his mom was his best friend, and that life hasn't been the same without her.
"(It's) hard to carry on without her," he said, while struggling to make it through his prepared speech.
Olsen's father died last week — Lewis said it was "with a broken heart."
Clemons' attorneys asked the judge for probation. They said Olsen's death was unintentional, and that Clemons has a large support system, increasing her chance of a successful probation.
They said Clemons wasn't a "high-level criminal," and that she's accepted her responsibility. Clemons recently attended an in-patient treatment program and is seeing a therapy to help with her addiction.
In a speech during the hearing, Clemons said she's haunted by her role in Olsen's death.
"On Aug. 5, 2018, I made a decision that I will always regret," Clemons said.
She said she's seeking probation, as it's the best path for her to beat addiction. Later this week, she said, she will be seven months sober.
Clemons pleaded guilty in August as she previously faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. As part of the plea deal, she asked for five years in prison.
In Monday's hearing, an attorney for the state argued that Clemons previously violated probation, adding that her actions still resulted in the loss of life.
Clemons was charged with third-degree murder in the Sixth District Judicial Court in December 2018, according to the Cloquet Pine Journal.
According to the complaint, Olsen's roommate returned home and found her dead around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5, 2018. He called 911 and began performing chest compressions until first responders arrived.
The roommate told the Moose Lake Police Department that she last saw Olsen around 4 p.m. when he left to go to a relative's home. During their last encounter, he said something was "off" with Olsen. He suspected she was using meth, the complaint said.
While gathering clothing for Olsen's funeral, a family member found her cellphone and turned it over to Moose Lake police.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analyzed the phone and its data. They found text messages between Olsen and Clemons from the morning of Aug. 5 that referenced a drug deal between them, according to the complaint,
A search of Olsen's home turned up drug paraphernalia like a snorting straw and a mirror with a crystalline substance that tested positive for meth.
An analysis of Clemons' phone found it had pinged off a tower in Duluth at 2:21 a.m., and then later pinged at 5:51 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. in Moose Lake.
Police then met with Clemons on Aug. 9, 2018. Here, Clemons said Olsen contacted her and asked for her to bring meth and syringes, the complaint said.
Clemons then brought 1 gram of meth — valued at approximately $60 — and two syringes to Olsen's home. Both of them used meth intravenously. Olsen gave Clemons $28 and some secondhand clothes in exchange for the drugs, the complaint said.
Clemons told police that Olsen became paranoid and asked her, "What did you give me?" right after injecting meth. Clemons stayed at Olsen's home until later in the morning, leaving shortly after Olsen's roommate returned.
The medical examiner determined that meth toxicity resulted in Olsen's death.