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Woman charged in attack on friend's killer during melee outside Mpls. bar

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • May 23, 2012 - 7:12 AM

A Minneapolis woman is charged with starting a fight outside a bar last year that left a friend of hers dead and led to murder charges against Chrishaun "CeCe" McDonald, in a case that became a rallying point for the transgender community.

Molly Shannon Flaherty, 41, was charged May 11 with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm, both felonies, for allegedly smashing a glass in McDonald's face outside the Schooner Bar in Minneapolis on June 5.

The Washington County attorney's office is handling the case to avoid a conflict of interest because Hennepin County prosecutors charged McDonald with second-degree murder for stabbing Dean Schmitz, 47, in the melee.

McDonald, who is transgender and lives as a woman, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter May 2 and is expected to be sentenced to three and half years in prison. For months before the plea, McDonald's supporters protested the charges.

Flaherty and Schmitz were among a group smoking cigarettes outside the bar just after midnight when McDonald and friends walked by, the charges said. Schmitz allegedly began hurling racial, homophobic and transgender slurs at McDonald's group, who then confronted Schmitz, the charges said.

A fight began when Flaherty allegedly threw or pushed a bar glass in McDonald's face, causing a gash that required 11 stitches. A witness not with either group reported seeing Flaherty on the ground and Schmitz trying to pull people off her and out of the fight. The witness then saw Schmitz step backward, hold his hand up to his shirt and say, "You stabbed me." McDonald allegedly said, "Yes, I did," and walked away.

In a statement, Washington County Attorney Peter Orput said charges against Flaherty were delayed because McDonald did not speak to investigators before her trial. Once she entered a plea, the case moved forward.

Flaherty was booked into the Hennepin County jail May 15. She was released the next day on $15,000 bail. She did not immediately return a telephone message for comment.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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