Two have been charged with murder in the 2016 shooting death of a St. Paul man during a robbery.
Matthew Alex Morton, 25, and Christopher Jerome McKay, 51, both of Detroit, Mich. were charged last month in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder without intent in the death of Gracson Simmons, 42. The charges were unsealed Thursday after police arrested the pair, according to Ramsey County attorney’s office spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein.
According to charges:
Simmons was discovered dead April 2 from a gunshot wound to the back in his apartment in the 1500 block of St. Anthony Avenue after witnesses reported hearing a struggle. Friends said that while Simmons sold drugs, he was quiet and kept to himself. Police recovered a cigarette butt from the ground.
The following month, a witness told police he knew McKay, who traveled to Minnesota to “lay low” because he was wanted for a Michigan bank robbery. McKay, along with Morton, stayed with the witness’ girlfriend in Cottage Grove, and they met Simmons, who sold them crack-cocaine.
Shortly after the killing, Morton called the witness and told him he and McKay “tried to rob a guy and they shot him,” and that McKay would not get rid of the gun because it was his only one. The witness told them to leave town, charges said.
Testing of the cigarette butt revealed a mixture of DNA, and neither McKay or Morton could be excluded as being contributors. Surveillance video from Simmons’ apartment showed two men approaching the apartment in a Dodge Durango, and cellphone and Facebook records placed Morton and McKay in Minnesota at the time of the killing. The witness’ girlfriend confirmed that she sold a Durango to McKay, and identified both in photo lineups.
Morton’s record includes convictions for theft and assault. McKay’s criminal history includes convictions for domestic violence, armed robbery and bank robbery. Morton made his first appearance Thursday in Ramsey County District Court, while McKay is being held in Michigan awaiting extradition.