A St. Paul man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of another man during an attempted robbery this month in the city’s North End neighborhood.

Benjamin L. Harris, 29, of St. Paul, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count each of second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent. Authorities allege that he killed Jason L. Mikulak, 41, about 4 a.m. on Sept. 1 in the 1200 block of Galtier Street.

According to the complaint, Mikulak and his girlfriend were talking while parked in the street in his car. Harris, who was on foot, approached the driver’s door where Mikulak sat and flashed a handgun.

“Open the door,” Harris said.

Mikulak unlocked the door, which Harris then opened. Harris demanded money. Mikulak’s girlfriend put $20 on top of the car. Harris demanded that she bring him the money.

Mikulak’s girlfriend began to comply, when Mikulak leapt from the car and tried to disarm Harris. Harris shot Mikulak twice and fled.

Police found Mikulak lying face down in the street, dead from gunshot wounds to his upper chest, abdomen and arm. Two small-caliber bullets were recovered from his body.

Mikulak’s girlfriend gave a suspect description to police at the scene, and authorities eventually matched the description to Harris, an ex-convict, with the help of fingerprints they recovered from Mikulak’s car door and window.

Police tracked Harris to his mother’s apartment on Marion Street several blocks north of the crime scene, according to the charges. Surveillance video at the building from the night of the shooting showed a man matching the shooting suspect’s description.

Police arrested Harris on Sept. 6 as he walked out of the apartment building. A search of the apartment found clothing and a bandanna that matched descriptions provided by Mikulak’s girlfriend.

In an interview with police, Harris denied involvement in the attempted robbery and shooting, but brought up “the lady that threw the $20 on the hood” without being asked or told about the detail, the complaint said.

Harris’ criminal record includes convictions for aggravated first-degree robbery and aggravated robbery. He also had an active arrest warrant in an aggravated first-degree robbery case.

Police have said Mikulak’s killing is not related to the Aug. 30 homicide of 26-year-old Kin K. Reynolds, whose death remains unsolved.


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