Day 2 of double murder trial continues to evoke dead drug lord’s name: ‘We were family’
FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) — Twenty witnesses were scheduled to testify Wednesday at the double murder trial, but none did a better job than Marina Zrnic, 33, one of two witnesses whose lives were deeply intertwined with the main character in the trial, Walter Kash aka Cash .
Both Zrnic and Joshua Dube, whose fiancée is Charlotte Cash’s sister, knew the defendant Ronald Price, who is accused, Jennifer Dray, 40, and Amanda Shroyer, 30, at 20 Cash at 815 Third St. and shot wildly at the bathroom door downstairs where the two women were hiding.
In fact, they said they saw him doing it.
He is charged with double murder, double murder, robbery resulting in death and using a firearm to commit a crime. The trial will continue on Thursday.
Key witnesses saw gunshots, take plea deals
In return for their testimony, Dube and Zrnic settled pleas for lower fees. Both had been charged with felony murder, for example in relation to a red Chevy Trailblazer that was actually registered to Dube, but Dray claimed after Cash’s death. Dray was Cash’s girlfriend and lived in the house on Third Street, where drugs were also sold, according to a statement Wednesday.
Cash was her boss and her friend. When he died of a fentanyl overdose on Friday, before the women were gunned down by a man in a light-colored hoodie, Cash left a backpack containing $10,000 worth of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.
“Yes, we sold drugs, but we were family”
In a city teeming with drug dealers, Zrnic said Cash was “up there” in terms of clout and revenue. Cash procured all kinds of drugs — weed, cocaine, spice, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl, she added. But Cash himself did not use fentanyl.
Zrnic, who sold drugs from room 811 at the Hawthorn Inn, estimated at the stand that she had enough drugs to last two months after Cash’s overdose. She rotated shifts with Dube in a 24/7 operation, working directly across from Cash in room 711, she said.
Zrnic also said she worked for a garbage company. To keep her three children away from drug dealing, she and her boyfriend, “50,” took the children to his mother’s, she said. The deal brought in $12,000 a week, money shared with cash.
Cash would normally check in at Zrnic around 8 a.m., but she didn’t start selling until 9 a.m., she said. Over the course of their friendship, they talked about their future, life, children, everything, and when he died “it hurt.”
The home at 815 Third St. was renovated in April 2021 and paid for by Walter Cash.
“I met Cash’s whole family. Yes, we sold drugs, but we were family too,” said Zrnic, who was dressed in prison gray and wore her long hair in pigtails.
But she called Jennifer Dray her best friend, someone she spoke to every day.
When Cash didn’t knock on her door on Friday morning and checked in at 8am, someone reported that “brother” didn’t wake up. Zrnic went to his room and found foam coming out of his mouth. She knew enough from watching TV shows to take his pulse and he was cold. She guessed he had been dead a few hours.
The night before, Cash told Zrnic he arranged a threesome with a hotel prostitute and Dray, she testified. After being found dead, Zrnic discovered Dray crying in the bathroom, afraid that people would blame her for his death. An ambulance was called.
The death of the drug lord leads to internal fighting and death
Cash’s death led to events worthy of Shakespeare, a dispute over territory, stashes of drugs, cash, the house at 815 Third St. almost entirely bought by Ronald Nifong, Cash’s landlord and neighbor, and a Red Trailblazer , bought on behalf of Dube but used by Cash. According to witnesses, Cash appeared uninterested in having the car registered on him.
The Trailblazer seemed to be the focus of hostility, but there were other concerns. Price, who was not involved in any of these disputes, seemed to take Cash’s death personally like others.
Price was also dope sick. This meant that if he didn’t get another dose of heroin, the drug he was taking, he would go on a detox, a painful ordeal.
Dube had been to Nifong to transfer the property’s name to Cash’s mother, although Jennifer Dray had also spoken to him about taking over the home. Nifong said on the witness stand that he didn’t think she had the means.
Dube already had his backpack full of drugs and Zrnic was set for the next few months. But the red Trailblazer represented control, and Dray used the vehicle that day to pick up a check in Washington Township with a friend.
That afternoon, Dube had cornered Dray at the house on Third Street. She called her childhood friend, terrified, after locking herself in the downstairs bathroom. Eventually, the unknowing Shroyer showed up to help and ended up in the bathroom with Dray.
“Doogie Herr (sic), not going … He walked up to mom, he got his gun, we locked ourselves in the bathroom, me and mom in the bathroom,” Shroyer wrote in a text.
Dube, in orange and white prison stripes indicating he is in a segregated population at the Allen County Jail for security reasons, said Wednesday he was not being rude at all that day. No, he didn’t wave a gun and yell that he owns the house now. He testified that he was quite polite.
SMS contradict that. “I caught them in the bathroom and their people are soposaly (sic) heading that way. i will handle it I’m not leaving until she is,” Dube wrote to Zrnic ahead of the shooting. He testified that he had a 9mm Glock and let Dray know he was armed.
Dube contacted Zrnic, whom he dubbed “Rina,” to pick up the Trailblazer as she had paid $2,500 in cash for ownership, even though no title or registration had been exchanged. Texts went back and forth between Zrnic and Dube.
She was picked up and shared the back seat with Ronald Price, who once used her cell phone. This is not uncommon in the drug world, as many of the customers are homeless and don’t have cellphones, Zrnic said. As far as she could remember, Price didn’t have a gun, but he was wearing a hoodie.
Price was the last one in and the one who started shooting, they said. Zrnic and Dube did not immediately identify him as the shooter to Fort Wayne police because they were afraid he might come after them, they said.
In fact, Zrnic said Price showed up at the Hawthorn Inn, where she’d moved to another room for security reasons, and was only trying to be nice to him since his trigger-happy behavior startled her, she said.
The trial will continue on Thursday. Allen County prosecutors Tesa Helge and Tom Chaille are expected to testify further. The closing arguments could take place early Thursday afternoon.
https://www.wane.com/news/crime/day-2-of-double-murder-trial-continues-to-evoke-dead-drug-kingpins-name-we-were-family/ Day 2 of double murder trial continues to evoke dead drug lord’s name: ‘We were family’