Upset that his girlfriend wouldn't talk to him, Anthony J. Mitchell walked backward in front of her in a Maplewood park on Feb. 23.
"I was talking," Mitchell told a riveted courtroom Friday morning. "She was not talking at all."
Anna Hurd, 16, pushed him to the ground, Mitchell testified. A wallet, a cellphone and a folding knife spilled out of his sweatpants. Mitchell testified that Hurd picked up the knife, and the two struggled.
"And when you got the knife away from her, what did you do?" asked Mitchell's public defender, Susan Scarborough.
"Out of reflex, I stabbed her in the stomach," Mitchell testified.
The 17-year-old from Maplewood pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree intentional murder in Hurd's death, telling prosecutors in Ramsey County district court that he stabbed Hurd three more times in the front, lower torso before she ran through the dark park just hours after midnight.
Mitchell said he stabbed Hurd because, "I was scared she was gonna go tell."
"I ran after her and stabbed her in the back," Mitchell said.
Mitchell initially told police conflicting stories, including one version wherein he discovered her body and ran after but could not catch a male suspect.
His agreement with prosecutors will net him nearly 22 years in prison. He has to serve about 14 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Ramsey County District Judge Gail Chang Bohr said that had he been convicted in juvenile court, Mitchell would have been released from detention within 18 months to two years.
Hurd was scheduled to board a bus about 5 p.m. on Feb. 23 for Texas, where she planned to move in with her mother. Mitchell and Hurd had argued about the move, and he testified that he planned to accompany her for a few days.
Hurd left Mitchell's home about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 because she wanted to go stay at a male friend's house, Mitchell testified. Mitchell told the court that Hurd told him she didn't want him to go to Texas and that she didn't want to see him.
Mitchell testified that Hurd fell to the ground and died, and he dragged her into nearby woods to hide her body.
Hurd's parents, Patrick Hurd and Jennifer Hutchings, said no sentence was adequate punishment for Mitchell. Hutchings said that the day after her daughter was killed, Mitchell feigned innocence and led her to the murder spot.
"He led me to where he murdered my daughter, where her blood was still all over the place," Hutchings said. "Nobody could see her way back in those woods unless you knew she was there where he put her."
Hutchings said that authorities told her that Hurd slowly bled to death, and was alive for 20 minutes after the stabbing, not dead immediately after the fifth stab as Mitchell testified. She also believes that Mitchell kicked her daughter because Anna had facial bruises and no teeth when the family viewed her body.
"My daughter was slaughtered and beaten," she said.