- An Omaha man who says he was under the influence of drugs when he fatally stabbed his roommate Vedant Patel will serve at least 15 years in prison.
Gregory Dodds recently was sentenced to 30 to 45 years in prison. He will serve at least 15 years under state sentencing guidelines.Dodds pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in September in the March 2012 death of 22-year-old Vedant Patel, an Indian American engineering student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.Two doctors said Dodds was insane at the time of the stabbing because of his extensive use of K2, a synthetic substance designed to mirror marijuana. State law says use of drugs is not a defense for insanity.According to the World-Herald News, Patel’s parents wailed in court Nov. 18 over the loss of their only son, saying they wished they were dead.Patel’s parents, who brought their son to the United States in 2008, were so grief-stricken as they left court that Patel’s mother had to be held up by relatives.In a heart-wrenching 90-minute hearing, both Patel’s family and prosecutors urged the judge to not reward Dodds by giving him a lesser sentence because of his drug abuse.After the sentence, Patel’s uncle urged the government to outlaw K2, a drug that was also recently blamed for the death of a Greenwood, Neb., teen.Patel’s parents lumbered out of the courthouse — his mother clutching a framed photo of her son as relatives steadied her.“They’re very disappointed,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. “And we are, too. It’s a poor message to send that, because he used drugs two weeks before, it somehow mitigates what he did.”Bataillon noted that Dodds had no criminal record.Dodds, who shared a condo with his brother and Patel, broke into Patel’s room and stabbed him as he lay in bed.Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cavanaugh said Dodds, now sober, is “mortified” by his actions. She noted that he had no record and he had no intention of doing anything with K2 besides getting high.Dodds purchased K2 at Lincoln and Council Bluffs head shops and had last used it two weeks before the attack. However, the cumulative use of K2 — he started using it in 2011 — increased his paranoia and his irrational thoughts, Cavanaugh said.Dodds came to believe that Patel had set up video cameras throughout the city to monitor Dodds’ behavior, Cavanaugh said. He also thought Patel had planted ideas in his mind via television news, and that “God had placed Vedant in his path” to test Dodds, Cavanaugh said.After the slaying, Dodds looked up to the sky and believed he saw a sign of approval by the way two stars had lined up.Cavanaugh said Dodds never connected K2 to his paranoid delusions because they happened “long after the high had worn off.”In emotionally draining testimony Nov. 18, each of Vedant’s parents talked for a half hour about what they sacrificed to move from India to the United States so their son would have a better college education. The couple settled in New Jersey and operated a small retail store.Vedant Patel — the kind of person who would stop at a pickup soccer game and make five friends before he left — spoke to his father for two hours the day before he died. Vedant had purchased a suit for his college graduation and already had landed a job as an engineer at John Deere.To his mother, he said, “Mom, when I get my paychecks, you won’t have to work anymore.”