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Las Vegas woman recalls hearing boyfriend’s last breath

Their final phone call replays in her head, over and over.

“I hear him dying every single day,” Nicole Guess told a judge Thursday.

About 2½ years ago, her boyfriend, 38-year-old Oliver Doppert, was shot and killed in his southwest valley home by roommate Mary Pitrello.

Earlier this year, Pitrello pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a charge of first-degree murder.

Following negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys, Clark County District Judge Eric Johnson on Thursday sentenced Pitrello, 29, to life in prison with a chance at parole after 20 years.

“Hopefully you at least take away from this proceeding some appreciation for the horrendous impact that your actions had,” the judge told Pitrello.

On the night of Sept. 12, 2013, Doppert took away Pitrello’s car keys because she was drunk. She became enraged and grabbed a shotgun. Doppert locked himself in his bedroom, afraid for his life, as he called his girlfriend.

“The tone of his voice sent pure fear down my spine,” Guess said. “I pleaded with him to escape and get out of there. I walked him through scenarios of jumping out a window or getting out a door.”

A muffled blast echoed.

“Ollie, Ollie, can you hear me?” she said. “I told him that if he could still hear my voice, he could survive, and we’d make it together.”

She tried to talk him through first aid and pressurizing the wound.

He gurgled his last breath and died on his bedroom floor.

“There’s nothing so loud as that silence,” Guess said.

She recalled hearing Pitrello approach, as her voice grew louder and louder on the other end of the line.

“Oliver, you have no right to take my keys,” Pitrello yelled. “Oliver, give me my keys.”

Guess cried out.

“Mary, you better try to save him,” she said. “Mary, try to stop the bleeding. Mary, don’t you dare leave him.”

Instead, Pitrello grabbed Doppert’s wallet, cellphone and keys.

She stormed out of the house and pointed the shotgun at a concerned neighbor before driving off in Doppert’s car with a friend, Stevie Lynn Bast. The two women had spent the day poolside, drinking a 5-liter box of Sunset Blush wine.

At the Stratosphere casino, Bast told security officers about the shooting. Pitrello sat at a bar, where she was quickly arrested.

Guess, a Henderson police officer, and Doppert, who worked in information technology for Marnell Cos., had met about 10 months before on Christmas Eve at a Starbucks, where they bonded over their passion for travel.

She fell for his charm, his wit, his humor, his “unfailingly generous” nature. He appreciated her “feistiness,” valued her opinions and listened intently to stories about her job.

“He made me feel valued and gave me a level of self-confidence that I’d never experienced,” she said. “We were genuinely happy. We were planning our future together.”

Pitrello was the former girlfriend of Doppert’s friend. He took her to doctor’s appointments, helped her with errands and bought her food when she was hungry. When Pitrello was out of a job, Doppert helped get her part-time work with his company. When she became homeless, he gave her a place to stay.

And when she was too drunk to drive, he tried to prevent her from hurting herself or perhaps others.

“Mary Pitrello killed him for trying to save her life,” Guess told the judge. “My fear is that the words in the English language can’t adequately convey the horror that my life has been saturated with since the murder.”

Pitrello’s lawyers said she would receive treatment in prison for her mental health problems.

“This crime was committed because my client was and is in the grip of a mental illness, which causes her to make bad decisions, and in this case a catastrophically bad and fatal decision,” Deputy Public Defender Edward Kane said. “She is going to pay the price for that.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find @randompoker on Twitter.

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