A Douglas County judge on Wednesday sentenced two men to life in prison for two execution-style killings in a botched drug deal.
Terrell Newman, 40, and Derrick Stricklin, 37, were convicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Omaha auto shop owner Carlos Morales and Bernardo Noriega.
Newman and Stricklin each received two life sentences.
The two tried to rob the other men of a package of cocaine. The victims were bound with computer wire, then Newman and Stricklin shot them in the head. Morales' girlfriend found the men's bodies on Dec. 2, 2012.
A go-between in the drug deal, Jose Herrera-Gutierrez, told police he survived by playing dead. Herrera-Gutierrez identified Stricklin and Newman as the shooters.
The prosecution's key witness, he come to court Wednesday to see Newman and Stricklin get sentenced to prison.
Prosecutors say Herrera-Gutierrez has moved from Omaha because of how the killings affected his life and his family.
Newman and Stricklin expressed sympathy for the victims' families in court, then said the justice system got the wrong guys.
“I'm going to continue to presume my innocence,” Newman said. “I just feel like the judicial system has conspired against me once again.”
Stricklin made similar statements during his sentencing.
“I would like to give remorse to the families for their loved ones being murdered, but I would also like to say that I had nothing to do with it,” Stricklin said. “I feel sorry for the families that the court didn't get the right person.”
Prosecutors reminded the court that both men were convicted by a jury last year.
District Judge Shelly Stratman said she took into consideration the heinous and violent nature of the crimes and the past criminal histories of the defendants.
The victims' families tearfully walked out of the courtroom. Noriega's daughter, Brianna, sobbed as she said Stricklin and Newman deserve to suffer like her family has.