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Minnesota man sentenced for execution-style killing

A 19-year-old Minnesota man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the execution-style killing of an Iron Range resident in January. The Saint Louis County resident, who originally denied committing the murder, pleaded guilty to a homicide in the first degree charge in September. Prosecutors say the killing took place during an aggravated robbery. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years. The judge also ordered him to pay $6,000 in restitution to the 33-year-old victim's family. He will be given credit for the 10 months he has already spent in custody.

The victim's body was discovered on a snowmobile trail near Kerr. Police responded to the scene after a snowmobiler called 911 to report the body. Medical examiners determined that the victim died after being shot twice in the face. The man is said to have become enraged when he learned that the victim had made advances toward his 18-year-old girlfriend. The man's girlfriend and a 21-year-old male acquaintance have also been charged in connection with the crime. The girlfriend, who is also charged with first-degree murder, is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 14. She has yet to enter a plea. The 21-year-old alleged accomplice has withdrawn a guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge.

Prosecutors say the man and his two accomplices blindfolded the victim and forced him into a vehicle. They then allegedly drove to a secluded spot on the Mesabi Trail. The 21-year-old man is said to have waited in the car while the man and his girlfriend led their captive onto the trail to commit the murder.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may encourage defendants accused of committing violent crimes like homicide or attempted homicide to consider entering into a plea agreement when the evidence against them is strong and the chances of them being acquitted after a trial are slim. However, attorneys may argue on behalf of criminal defendants in court when police have violated a person's constitutional rights during the investigation or the prosecutor's case is less than compelling.

Source: The Star Tribune, Execution-style murder in Iron Range woods draws life term for shooter, Paul Walsh, Oct. 29, 2019

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