Man pleads guilty to killing bystander at Minneapolis bar

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2014 - 8:44 PM

Ron Powell was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing Mark Stephenson at Champions on Lake St.

A Minneapolis man pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the shooting death of an innocent bystander at Champions Bar in Minneapolis in August.

Ron Powell, 43, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with credit for 285 days already served in jail while he awaited trial, which was to begin Monday. In exchange for the guilty plea on the most serious charge, two others were dropped — second-degree assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Under questioning from his lawyer, Powell admitted that he was in Champions Bar, 105 W. Lake St., on Aug. 8 when another bar patron came up and started punching him. Powell fired a gun three times. Bullets hit and wounded his assailant, but one bullet also struck Mark A. Stephenson, 51, who was standing at the bar, killing him.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell asked Powell whether he agreed that “shooting in a bar is not a reasonable response?”

Powell responded with a “yes.”

Stephenson’s mother, wife, brother and sister-in-law gave emotional victim impact statements in which they noted that he was a good husband, father and grandfather. By contrast, they said, Powell was a career criminal.

They also argued that it is unjust that Powell will serve only about 10 years in prison and the other five on probation, while they would never see Stephenson again.

Hennepin County District Judge Martha Holton Dimick expressed her condolences to the family and acknowledged there was no way she could explain to the family’s satisfaction that “there are certain rules the system has to follow.”

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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