The parents of Palagor Jobi arrived at the courthouse Friday after a hearing had already concluded for the man accused of killing their son.
Both were enveloped in hugs from Monty and Mariana Schunk, the parents of 20-year-old Anarae Schunk, who disappeared Sept. 22 — the day Jobi, 23, was gunned down in the parking lot of Nina’s Bar and Grill in Burnsville. Her body was found nine days later, riddled with stab wounds, in a roadside ditch near Lonsdale, Minn.
Shavelle Chavez Nelson, 31, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in Jobi’s death and is the prime suspect in Schunk’s, although no charges have been filed. Nelson and Schunk dated for a short time and went to Nina’s together the night before her disappearance.
Jobi’s father, Obang Jobi, of Savage, spoke to reporters for the first time Friday outside the Dakota County courthouse.
“He was a good boy,” he said of his son, who he called the philosopher of his age group. “We still miss him.”
Obang Jobi said his son, also known as Paul, and Schunk attended the same high school and had friends in common.
“It’s so sad,” he said of talking with Schunk’s family.
“Why was [Nelson] allowed to have a gun?” Jobi asked. “He was out of prison, he had a gun and he killed my son.”
Jobi’s father said his son was born in Ethiopia and emigrated with the family first to Kenya, then to the United States in 1993. The family lived in Brookings, S.D., then Mankato and finally Savage. After earning his GED, Palagor Jobi attended Normandale Community College in Bloomington.
“He was always looking into new ideas and insights on life here on Earth and never hesitated to share his newfound wisdom with those around him,” Obang Jobi said in an e-mailed statement. “His voice was always heard.
“His friends were saying that Palagor was the one friend, cousin, brother to always have your back. … One of the more admirable qualities about him was his boldness in calling them out if they were in the wrong.
“We still remember the love he had for each and every one of us.”
Friday’s hearing before District Judge Kathryn Messerich was scheduled as a contested omnibus hearing, where defense attorneys could contest whether there was probable cause for the charges. No contested motions were filed, leaving little for the judge and attorneys to do but set further court dates. The trial is scheduled for July 7.
Defense attorney Brenda Lightbody told the judge that she would continue to reserve the issue of probable cause, while prosecutor Kathryn Keena noted that the grand jury that indicted Nelson on charges of premeditated murder had already found probable cause.
Nelson, dressed in a baggy orange jumpsuit, made eye contact repeatedly and smiled at a woman seated alone in the front row of the courtroom as he entered and left. Schunk’s parents sat in the row behind her. He is serving at least 5½ years in prison after pleading guilty in December to burglarizing a home in Richfield last June.
He was out on bail on that charge when Jobi was shot and Schunk disappeared. He had been convicted of at least three violent felonies before that and had been out of prison for a total of less than four of the past 14 years.
Keena told the Schunks after the hearing that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is testing hundreds of pieces of evidence in their daughter’s case.
Monty and Mariana Schunk are pushing for changes to the bail and sentencing system for repeated violent offenders. They have proposed the Anarae Schunk Repeat Violent Offender Bail Law that would deny bail to a person with two prior felony convictions, one of which was a violent crime, when that person is charged with another violent crime involving a gun or other lethal weapon.
They also have proposed an Anarae Schunk Repeat Violent Offender Prosecuting and Sentencing Law that would impose a mandatory life sentence without parole for a person convicted of a third violent crime involving a gun.