Verdict: Man avoids two counts of murder in double homicide; Still likely to live in prison

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – On Friday, an Allen County jury found that Ron Price, who was not guilty of shooting dead two Fort Wayne women at point blank range, was massacred as she desperately sought help in a bathroom in the first floor at 815 Third Waiting St.

However, the jury found him guilty of felony murder, committing another felony during the murder, and a fifth count of attempted murder. Crime murder carries the same sentence as murder, so he faces 45 to 65 years in prison if convicted at 2:30 p.m. on March 10

It took the jury about three hours to come to its decision, which included elements that should please the defense and prosecutor. Text messages placed Price at 815 Third St around 5 p.m. on April 20, 2021, when Jennifer Dray, 40, and Amanda Shroyer, 30, barricaded themselves in a first-floor bathroom to shield themselves from Joshua Dube, 37, who a Glock waved 9mm around and threatened them.

Ronald price

Defense attorney Anthony Churchward wanted the jury to believe that Ronald Price was a pathetic homeless man sitting in a vehicle outside 815 Third Street, intoxicated and waiting for Marina Zrnic and two others to leave the house. According to witnesses, he had been in the back seat with Zrnic, one of the key witnesses, and had used heroin while driving.

As both the state and defense stated, the chain of events leading up to the women’s deaths would not have happened but for the overdose death of Walter Kash, aka Cash. For everyone involved in this drama, Cash was their boss, their employer, their friend and family, and for some their pharmacologist.

According to Zrnic, 33, one of the star witnesses selling dope at the Hawthorn Suites across the street, she and Dube rotated shifts around the clock, selling marijuana, heroin, fentanyl, spice, methamphetamine, cocaine, pretty much anything you could get into the world of drugs needs. Cash ran a drug empire.

Prosecutors Tesa Helge, chief counsel, and Tom Chaille, deputy chief prosecutor, said Price’s world collapsed with the death of that benefactor. According to Ronald Nifong, Price’s landlord and the landlord of 815 Third St., he had been kicked out of 801 Third St.

Nifong, who lived next door to 815, was in the process of selling the property to Cash. Dube, who was engaged to Cash’s sister, was determined to take over the house contract and everything else that went with the drug empire his future brother-in-law had built.

“There are three people who played a role, who played a role,” Helge told the judges. “We have heard from them and they will put in a lot of time.”

Price was upset after Cash’s death, sources said. Two days after Cash’s fentanyl overdose on April 16, people blamed Dray because she was with him that night along with a hotel prostitute. Price was seen by several people having a “big argument” with Dray on the sidewalk in front of 815 Third St., including Nifong, who said Price was wearing a hoodie that day “that he usually wore.”

Cash kept Price going by giving him odd jobs, including helping the contractor remodel 815 Third St. and selling drugs through his network.

“After he dies, he has nowhere to go, no drugs,” Helge explained.

Nifong’s speech about the hoodie was significant because the shooter was described as wearing a hoodie that hid his face.

Dray was entitled to the house, the drugs left there, cash and the red trail blazer because she lived there and was Cash’s girlfriend, Zrnic and others explained. She paid the utility bills and used the red Trailblazer Cash, which was hers through an agreement with Dube.

“In the street world, this is your vehicle,” Zrnic said on the witness stand on Wednesday.

But Dube didn’t feel that way and showed up around 2:35pm on April 20 to demand everything and force Dray’s departure. However, there was no exit stage left or right. Dray stayed put, digging on her heels and appealing to friends as she and the unknowing Shroyer barricaded themselves in the first floor bathroom while telling people outside that Dube had a gun and was threatening them.

Their lyrics show how scared they were. At the same time, Dube and its sales partner Zrnic were in contact.

“Come, get the Trailblazer,” wrote Dube Zrnic via SMS. “I’m not leaving until she does,” Dube warns.

Helge said Dube could easily have shot her that afternoon after telling people to leave. As much as he wanted Dray out of there, he wasn’t stupid enough, nor excited enough to shoot her, nor did he want witnesses. When he knew trouble was coming, he sent three or four people out of the house.

But the defense hammered out the lack of a murder weapon. Price reportedly told Dube in the Allen County Jail that he burned his clothes and disassembled the gun.

Anthony Churchward, Price’s attorney, said that if they joined forces against Price, pleading meant that Dube and Zrnic would spend much less time in prison. Churchward called Price “the perfect scapegoat” sitting alone in the back seat, drunk and homeless.

No wonder homicide detective Scott Tegtmeyer found Price nervous during his first police interview. “He had just been accused of shooting people,” Churchward said.

“Your job is not to administer justice or to speculate,” Churchward told the jury. Instead, the 12 jurors must render their verdict on what is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

The latest event in which two families robbed a loved one began at 4:35 p.m. At 5:05 p.m. the women had been shot. Zrnic and Dube said they both witnessed the shooting and that Price was the gunman who came in and “just started shooting.”

The jury wasn’t so sure, but they certainly felt there and found him guilty of double murder.

There was relief on both sides after Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull delivered his verdict. Betty Davis shoulders shrugged on the shoulder of her son Nathaniel Johnson. Outside the courtroom, Davis said justice was served to her and her grandchildren, the four Amanda left behind.

Carlina Shock, Jennifer Dray’s sister, was emotional.

“I prayed every single night please God I beg you please that he is guilty and God answered my prayers wonderful,” Carlina said through a sign language interpreter. “Amen. I’m so happy. And right after that I’m going to visit my sister’s grave and tell her yes, yes. I just have to wait until March 10thth and they will carry out the judgment. But I’m glad that part is over.”

“We are grateful for a great job on behalf of the Fort Wayne Police Department,” she said.

Helge said the verdict held all three parties responsible, including Price, Zrnic and Dube.

In exchange for testifying against Price, both Dube and Zrnic have outstanding settlement agreements. Under the agreements, Dube would receive a 30-year sentence on robbery, criminal detention and drug trafficking charges, and Zrnic would receive a 15-year sentence, five of which would be suspended for attempted robbery. The defense agreements have yet to be accepted by a judge. Verdict: Man avoids two counts of murder in double homicide; Still likely to live in prison

Dais Johnston

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