British Autavia Morris-Rice was fatally shot earlier this month as she drove by a man who had fought with her male companion on St. Paul’s West Side, according to murder charges filed against the alleged shooter.
Morris-Rice, 22, was found unconscious about 11:45 p.m. July 19 in the driver’s seat of a car that had crashed on a service road near Robert and George streets. She was transported to Regions Hospital, where she died nine hours later after being taken off life support.
DeMarcus L. Barnett, 29, was charged Monday in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder in her death. Barnett, who is not in custody and doesn’t have a known address, was charged via arrest warrant.
According to the complaint:
Morris-Rice, her male companion and Barnett were at a party that night on E. Delos Street. Witnesses, their accounts backed by surveillance video, said that Barnett scuffled with Morris-Rice’s male companion about 11:30 p.m.
The manager of a restaurant on Cesar Chavez Street told police that he saw two groups of men arguing outside and a woman yelling, “Just leave! Stop being disrespectful to people.” The woman yelled for the group to leave and everyone did so, the restaurant manager told police.
Surveillance video from the restaurant shows three men fighting in the distance, one man chasing another, and finally Morris-Rice pulling the car into a parking lot and quickly executing a three-point turn in order to get out of the dead end.
The video then shows Morris-Rice driving out of the lot when a man a few feet away extends his arm, tracks the car and fires. Two witnesses at the party identified Barnett as the man who extends his arm in the video, according to the complaint.
One man who attended the party told police that he first saw Morris-Rice sitting in a car and her male companion standing near it. Then, he said, Morris-Rice exited the car, but her male companion assaulted her and ordered her back inside.
The man said he confronted the male companion about his behavior, since children and other people were present. The male companion swung at the man, missed and then fled. Barnett caught and wrestled him until he broke free and ran again.
At that point, Morris-Rice drove in, made a U-turn and drove toward Barnett. Barnett pulled a handgun from his pants and shot at her as she drove by him, the male witness told police.
When authorities found Morris-Rice they couldn’t find a pulse and she was cold to the touch, and officers began CPR. They didn’t know she had been shot because she was only bleeding internally, and it wasn’t until she arrived at the hospital that a gunshot wound to her left side was discovered. Hospital staff put 70 “blood products” into her body but could not stop the bleeding, the complaint said.
Morris-Rice’s male companion arrived at the crime scene and was detained for questioning. He told police that Morris-Rice had been driving his car, according to the complaint.
Barnett’s criminal history includes convictions for aggravated robbery, being an accomplice after the fact and being a felon in possession of a firearm.