The admitted killer of a bar patron during a racially charged brawl late at night on a Minneapolis street was released Monday after being imprisoned for 19 months of a 3½-year sentence.
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, 25, a man in transition to being a woman, left the men’s prison in St. Cloud and will be under continued supervision by Hennepin County until the 41-month term ends in February 2015, according to a department spokeswoman.
McDonald also was given credit for about nine months of time served before being imprisoned in the fatal stabbing in June 2011 of Dean Schmitz, 47, of Minneapolis.
Supporters posted photos of a smiling McDonald on Facebook moments after release about 8:30 a.m.
“CeCe’s out, and she’s happy to be out,” said Roxanne Anderson, program director for the Twin Cities-based Trans Youth Support Network. “She’s looking good and had a lovely return trip home to be with her close buds and family.”
Anderson said a welcome home party was planned for Saturday night at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, where “people can check her out. She may do a little performance,” Anderson added, declining to reveal the talent involved.
On June 5, 2011, a brawl outside the Schooner Tavern left Schmitz dead and, a year later, McDonald convicted of manslaughter.
The prosecution of McDonald became a rallying point for gay, lesbian and transgender organizations demanding that the charges be dropped and that McDonald not be housed in a men’s prison.
According to charges, McDonald and friends were walking along E. 29th Street shortly after midnight when a group of men and women outside the tavern started yelling racial, homophobic and transgender slurs. The group that included McDonald, all of them black, crossed the street to confront the bar crowd.
A woman from the tavern pushed a bar glass into McDonald’s face, leaving cuts that required 11 stitches.
Schmitz then pulled McDonald out of the fight, and McDonald stabbed him in the chest with scissors. Schmitz died at the scene.
McDonald was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was given a 3½-year sentence in June 2012, along with being ordered to pay the Schmitz’s family funeral expenses of $6,400. The state’s gender assessment determined that McDonald would be imprisoned in a men’s facility.
At sentencing, McDonald placed some of the responsibility for the bloodshed on Schmitz.
“I’m sure that to Dean’s family, he was a loving, caring person,” McDonald said in court. “But that is not what I saw that night. I saw a racist, transphobic, narcissistic bigot who did not have any regard for my friends and I.”
Tammy Luhmenn, mother of Schmitz’ three grown sons, said at the same court hearing that “Dean loved his children, and at the hands of Chrishaun McDonald, he can never tell them again.”