Two Lives, One Night

Naomi Martin and Dave Tarrant: Had they met under different circumstances, the two 20-year-olds could have easily been friends.

Sara Mutschlechner loved Quentin Tarantino films and Japanese anime. She played the drums, earned a black belt in karate and cried at Disney movies. She wrote scripts, made funny videos of her cat and dreamed of directing movies.

Eric Johnson was artistic, too. He was passionate about photography, painting and wrote his own hip-hop songs under a persona that was wilder, more rebellious than his current life as a Marine corporal. He sewed his own clothes and dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. He was into Japanese video games.

On New Year’s Eve, Sara and Eric showed up at the same house party in Denton but didn’t meet.

After leaving the party, they pulled up next to each other at a stoplight a few blocks from the University of North Texas, each of their cars full of friends.

Some of the men in Eric’s SUV hollered at Sara and her friends, asking where they were going. They pivoted quickly to yelling that they wanted to have sex with the women. A man in the back seat of Sara’s car shouted back.

As the confrontation escalated, the light changed. The drivers sped forward, with Eric allegedly reaching for his gun.

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