Duluth woman pleads guilty in overdose death

Dawn Marie Clemons sold Leah Michele Olsen, of Moose Lake, the methamphetamine that eventually killed Olsen.


A Duluth woman pleaded guilty Monday, Aug. 10, to third-degree murder after providing a lethal dose of methamphetamine to a friend.

As part of a plea agreement, Dawn Marie Clemons, 41, would serve five years in prison for her role in the drug overdose of Leah Michele Olsen, 38, of Moose Lake. She faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $40,000 fine if she was found guilty by a jury.

Dawn Marie Clemons

Clemons was charged in Sixth District Judicial Court after Olsen was found dead Aug. 5, 2018.


During the plea hearing Monday at the Carlton County Courthouse in Carlton, Clemons used a tissue to dab tears out of her eyes as she confirmed many of the details contained in the criminal complaint with Assistant County Attorney Jeffrey Boucher.

According to the complaint, Olsen's roommate discovered her unresponsive on the floor of their home at about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5, 2018. The roommate told the Moose Lake Police Department he had last seen Olsen alive at about 4 p.m. He said something was "off" with Olsen and he suspected she had been using meth.

The roommate left at about 4 p.m. to go to a relative's home and returned to find Olsen on the floor. He called 911 and began performing chest compressions until first responders arrived.

Moose Lake police retrieved Olsen's cellphone from a family member, who found it while gathering clothing for Olsen's funeral.

A Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analysis of the phone found a number of text messages between Olsen and Clemons in the early morning of Aug. 5 referencing a drug deal between the two. A search of Olsen's home also found drug paraphernalia, including a snorting straw and a mirror with a crystalline substance that tested positive for meth.

The BCA analysis of Clemons' phone showed it pinged off a tower in Duluth at 2:21 a.m. It later pinged at 5:51 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. in Moose Lake.

Police officers met with Clemons at the office of her probation officer Aug. 9, 2018. Clemons said Olsen contacted her and asked her to bring meth and syringes. Clemons said she obtained approximately 1 gram of meth, valued at about $60.

Clemons brought the drugs and two syringes to Olsen's home, where the pair then used the meth intravenously. Olsen gave Clemons $28 and some clothes in exchange for the drugs, according to the complaint.


Clemons reportedly told police that Olsen asked her, "What did you give me?" immediately after injecting the meth and became paranoid. Clemons said she remained at the residence until later in the morning and left shortly after Olsen's roommate arrived.

The final report from the medical examiner determined meth toxicity as the cause of Olsen's death.

Sixth District Judicial Court Judge Robert Macauley set Clemons’ sentencing hearing for 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Carlton County Courthouse.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
What To Read Next
Get Local