Man charged in St. Paul stabbing death

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune staff writer
  • Updated: May 12, 2014 - 9:42 PM

An argument between two friends who once dated led to stabbing, prosecutors said.

 

A St. Paul man was charged Monday with fatally stabbing a woman over the weekend in St. Paul.

Willie J. Chestnut, 54, faces charges of second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent in Ramsey County District Court for allegedly killing Towanda F. Harris, 46.

Harris, of St. Paul, was found dead after police were called to the 1400 block of Minnehaha Avenue E. around 5:30 p.m. Saturday to assist medics.

According to the complaint: Chesnut and Harris dated in 2003. Chestnut, his girlfriend and their 5-year-old son were visiting Harris and her husband.

The adults were drinking beer and vodka when Chestnut and Harris began arguing about their past. The two began hitting each other, and Chestnut knocked her to the ground, the charges said.

Chestnut and Harris both grabbed knives, according to the complaint, and Chestnut stabbed Harris in the shoulder.

Harris’ husband told police that she was defending herself, charges said.

Harris’ 10-year-old niece saw the hitting and overheard the stabbing. The girl told police that Chestnut struck Harris first, and after a few blows were exchanged, Harris missed and struck Chestnut’s son, the complaint said.

The girl told police that she ran to hide in a bedroom closet with her two younger sisters, and overheard Harris yell, “No Willie, no, don’t stab me!”

The girl said she then saw Harris flee into the bedroom coughing up blood. Harris fell to the ground, and her eyes were “floating backward,” the girl told authorities.

Chestnut fled the building, charges said.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed Monday to obtain Chestnut’s DNA, Harris went into full cardiac arrest after being stabbed. She suffered a stab wound to the upper chest that cut an artery, perforated a vein and punctured her left upper lung lobe, the complaint said.

A witness saw Chestnut allegedly discard a bloody knife on the ground outside the apartment building. Chestnut was later arrested a few blocks away. He told police that he didn’t hit or stab Harris, charges said. Chestnut also said he was drunk at the time.

Chestnut has a long criminal history that includes convictions for domestic abuse, assault and disorderly conduct.

 

chao.xiong@startribune.com • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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