Man sentenced to 12 years for role in deadly fentanyl overdose
A St. Paul man will be spending several years in prison for his role in a deadly fentanyl overdose last year.
Bret Ryne Lott, 32, was sentenced Friday to 12 years (146 months) behind bars for the overdose death of 27-year-old Zhennavie Isabo Bauman.
A jury convicted Lott on one count of third-degree murder in April, according to court records.
Lott was arrested in April 2022 after Bauman’s mother, Michelle Werlein, discovered Lott’s location. “As I found out, I hung up and called the detective in charge of the case — this is the address — this is where he’s living,” Werlein said. Police confirmed her help, which led to Lott’s arrest.
Two firearms and suspected fentanyl were recovered during the arrest, according to a criminal complaint.
“My daughter Zhennavie Isabo was as unique and beautiful as her name,” Werlein said in court on Friday.
She spoke before Lott was sentenced, telling the judge, “Zhennavie’s life did have value, a million words can’t describe the love that I have for her. When Zhennavie died, a part of me died with her.”
For Werlein, it was a moment that was years in the making.
The court document states that on Nov. 2, 2019, law enforcement found Bauman dead in a room at Motel 6 in Roseville. The room had been cleared of all personal items and moveable furnishings, including the garbage and towels.
An investigation by law enforcement uncovered that the room has been rented by Lott originally, and later put into a witness’s name.
The complaint states that messages on Lott’s social media show him discussing the potency of the drugs in his possession. Lott wrote that he began selling fentanyl because of the high tolerance of his heroin customers.
According to court records, his messages are quoted saying, “So gotta be careful af cuz a sober person will od off .002, cuz I only do a hp or a p at most and I got quite a tolerance.” Another message said “I just had way too many od so im a lil nervous 2 give this w anyone cuz i od b4 by sniffing about 1/2 a point and my face ain’t itch 1st or nothing. No warning signs I sniffed a half p and walked into work and next im waking up in a ambulance so i don’t want nothing 2 happen 2 u dog.”
More messages from Oct. 31, 2019, show Lott speaking with the woman about drug sales, and Lott sent her the address to the motel in Roseville, the criminal complaint states. At 12:25 a.m. on Nov. 1, Lott sent the woman a photo of both of them with the caption “Happy Halloween” written on it. Both also had red eyes in the photo.
Investigators also spoke with Lott’s mother, who said Lott called her on Nov. 1. Lott’s mother told police that Lott told her that he was doing drugs with a woman who died. He told her he was afraid to call the police because he had active warrants for his arrest. The complaint also states that Lott said, “she had only spent $9 on the drugs and there was no way a person could die from that small amount.”
“I had to be incredibly patient throughout this whole process,” Werlein said. “Initially, I was consumed with finding him.”
Lott had an active warrant after a September 2018 arrest in Wisconsin related to the manufacture/delivery of heroin.
During an interview with investigators, Lott admitted to being at the motel with the woman the day she died, and that he fled because of his active warrant at the time. He also admitted to using and selling drugs but denied providing the drugs that caused the woman’s death.
An inmate inside the Eau Claire County Jail told an investigator that Lott spoke about the woman’s death “on several occasions.” The inmate claims that Lott said the woman “must have gotten into his stuff, used it, and died.”
Back in court, Werlein asked the judge for a lengthy sentence.
“Bret gave me a life sentence. From that day until I take my last breath, I will be grieving my daughter’s death,” Werlein told the court.
Lott spoke very briefly, telling the judge he hoped the sentence gave the family some type of closure for “all of this.”
Judge Nicole Starr noted that “this court system can not provide closure.”
“I wish it could take away the heartbreak,” Starr added.
Afterward, Lott headed off to state prison, a moment Werlein has waited years to see.
“He is being taken off the streets, potentially saving other families for going through what we’ve gone through. … I’m so grateful, so grateful,” she said.