A little over a week before his trial was to begin, Shavelle Chavez Nelson admitted guilt Friday in the 2013 stabbing death of 20-year-old University of Minnesota student Anarae Schunk.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Chavez-Nelson, 33, is expected to receive a 17-year prison sentence. He is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without parole for the murder of Palagor Jobi, which happened shortly before Schunk was killed. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Schunk’s family supported the plea deal because they didn’t want the trauma of a trial.
“Once again I wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Anarae Schunk for their great loss,” he said in a statement. “The negotiated settlement of this case was agreed upon with the support of Anarae’s family who had expressed a desire to negate any additional trauma to family and friends that may have resulted from a trial.”
Last February Ashley Conrade, 25, the girlfriend of Chavez-Nelson, pleaded guilty to aiding an offender after the fact. If his case had gone to trial, she agreed to testify against him. She will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Authorities believe Schunk, of Burnsville, was killed in the early morning hours of Sept. 22 — stabbed 22 times with a kitchen knife — at Conrade’s Rosemount townhouse. Schunk's naked body was found Sept. 30 in a roadside ditch in Lonsdale in Rice County.
Investigators say Schunk went with Chavez-Nelson and Conrade to Nina’s Bar & Grill in Burnsville around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 22, 2013. At closing time, Chavez-Nelson got into a fight with Jobi in the parking lot. Jobi, 23, of Savage, was shot dead.
After the shooting, the three returned to Conrade’s townhouse — where Schunk was last seen alive. Investigators believe she was killed in the kitchen between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m.
Police said Conrade gave multiple versions of events that unfolded that morning. But in each, Conrade denied killing Schunk and insisted she didn’t know who had killed her, how Schunk died or where she could be found.
It took police and prosecutors nine months to gather and process reams of evidence and to charge Nelson and Conrade in her death. Backstrom said when charges were announced that it may never be known who struck the fatal blows, but it doesn’t really matter. Both defendants are responsible, he said.
The grand jury that indicted them met over five days and heard testimony from 17 witnesses before handing up the indictment charging the two with aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder and aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder. Those charges supersede the previous charge of second-degree intentional murder. The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison.
Schunk met Chavez-Nelson at a bus stop in the summer of 2012. He told her he was a hedge-fund manager. Even after she learned about his real background, she believed she could help him turn his life around, her family has previously said. Schunk and Chavez-Nelson dated during the summer of 2012.
On the night of Schunk’s death, Conrade became jealous when she saw Chavez-Nelson place his arm around Schunk as they were walking into the bar, according to the criminal complaint.