MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Alexandria woman learned Friday she will spend more than seven years in prison for the murder of a man she loved.
Jason Nyberg died in September inside the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault after 34-year-old Melissa Guillette smuggled in methamphetamine and passed it to him.
Guillette pleaded guilty to his murder and was sentenced in Rice County court on Friday. She made no secret she was displeased with the judge’s decision.
“I understand what happened, I feel guilty for what happened to him! He was my best friend!” Guillette said.
Judge Thomas Neuville agreed Guillette did not mean for Nyberg to die.
“I do give you some credit for promptly accepting responsibility,” Neuville said.
Guillette admitted she filled two gel tablets with crushed-up, powdery meth back in September and smuggled them into the prison in her back pocket.
“I screwed up, I relapsed, I was clean for 10 years!” Guillette said.
She said Nyberg had asked her to bring him the drugs. Investigators said prison videos show Guillette handed Nyberg the pills during a visit.
Nyberg took the pills and died three hours later in his cell from an overdose.
“This is somewhat more serious than the normal case in that you were introducing contraband into a prison setting,” Neuville said.
Defense attorney Steve Ecker argued Guillette did not have a significant criminal record prior to this murder.
The state agreed to drop the contraband charge if Guillette pleaded guilty to the third-degree murder charge.
“The guidelines for that offense with no criminal history score are 74 months to 103 months,” Neuville said.
Guillette’s emotions boiled over when the judge handed down her sentence of 86 months in prison. This was not the minimum that Guillette and her attorney anticipated.
“I didn’t plan to murder him, I didn’t plan on going into the prison then having him die!” Guillette said. “I made a mistake!”
Neuville countered Guillette’s outburst.
“You don’t have to have intent to kill in order to be guilty of this crime,” Neuville said.
Guillette’s sisters in-law, Tina and Toni Bartone, are helping raise her four children.
The women said they have known Guillette for 10 years, and she lived with them in Douglas County for some time before relapsing within the last year.
“She just wanted to be loved by someone,” Tina Bartone said.
The Bartones said Guillette was sober for some five years before getting involved with Nyberg about one year ago.
“It’s just this cycle, and just continues and continues,” Toni Bartone said. “They just need help.”
Guillette announced, “I’m not a cold-hearted killer,” after her sentence was announced.
“The court sincerely hopes you take advantage of whatever programming is available to you in a prison setting, especially of a chemical dependency nature,” Neuville said.
Guillette will serve her time at the the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee. The Bartones will continue to care for her children.