Oakdale man ruled competent to face trial in boy's shooting death

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2014 - 9:03 PM

Nhan Tran has been treated for mental illness since he allegedly shot at cars and killed a 9-year-old in a 2013 shooting spree.

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Nhan Lap Tran

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After nearly a year of treatment for mental illness, an Oakdale man has been found competent to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder in the February 2013 random shooting death of a 9-year-old boy.

Washington County District Judge Gary Schurrer ruled Friday that Nhan Tran, 35, has recovered sufficiently to understand the charges against him and to participate in his defense, said Fred Fink, head of the criminal prosecution division of the county attorney’s office.

Tran, who spent much of the past year being treated at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, faces five other felony counts in which he is accused of walking to Hadley Avenue near Seventh Street, about a block from his home in Oakdale, and randomly shooting at cars as they drove by.

One of the shots hit and killed Devin Aryal, a fourth-grader, as he rode home from day care with his mother, Missy, who was wounded in the arm. Karen Knoblach, also driving on Hadley that day, lost part of a finger as her vehicle was sprayed with bullets as she drove with her three grandchildren.

Two other motorists narrowly avoided being shot in the 20-minute spree that started just after darkness fell.

In May 2013, Schurrer found Tran to be mentally ill and dangerous based on two separate evaluations and put off a trial on the shootings until Tran could get treatment.

Tran’s relatives, immigrants from Vietnam, have asserted that he had been mentally ill for years, but that they couldn’t afford mental health care.

After the shootings, Tran told detectives “that cars had been following him around for a while and the persons driving the cars had been revving up their engines while parked in front of his house and waking him up.”

Tran admitted to shooting at the vehicles, court documents show. He also said he shot at them to quiet the noise.

Schurrer set Oct. 13 as the date for a jury trial.

 

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson

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