A jury on Thursday night found Nicholas J. Kruse not guilty of aiding and abetting in the murder of a St. Paul man in 2011.
Kruse had been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a drive-by shooting, aiding and abetting unintentional murder, and aiding an offender. Jurors found him not guilty on the first two counts and reported that it was hung on the charge of aiding an offender.
Dekoda M. Galtney, 24, was shot in the chest on Sept. 28 as he got out of a car near E. 4th Street and Bates Avenue. Witnesses said five gunshots were fired.
Kruse, 26, was the alleged getaway driver. He allegedly lied to police and concealed evidence of the shooting. The alleged gunman, Adrian R. Flowers, entered an Alford plea of guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in 2012, and was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison.
According to Kruse's attorney, Murad Mohammad, the jury's report that it was deadlocked on the third count constitutes a mistrial on that charge. The Ramsey County attorney's office will have to decide whether to recharge Kruse on that charge, Mohammad said.
According to charges: A witness who had been riding in Galtney's car said that they had gotten into an altercation with Flowers and others earlier in the day. Another witness told police that Kruse and Flowers were best friends.
Kruse told police he drove Flowers and a few other men to buy marijuana. Court documents show that Kruse told police he didn't see Flowers with a gun that day and that he fled the shooting scene and did not pick up Flowers. Confronted with phone records, Kruse later admitted that he called Flowers and picked him up after the shooting, the complaint said.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Lamin said in opening statements that "bad blood" between Flowers and Galtney led to the shooting. Kruse positioned his car for the shooting and later picked up Flowers, she said.
Mohammad said his client did not know what was happening at the time of the shooting.
"This was a really unfortunate situation where my client was thrust into the middle of a shooting that had nothing to do with him," the attorney said. "We are of course pleased that the jury found Nicholas to not have any responsibility in the death of a young man. It would have been unfair and unjust to tie him to the bad acts and decisions of another person."
Chao Xiong • 651-735-1762