The longtime partner of a young mother kidnapped and fatally shot in north Minneapolis on New Year's Eve is recovering from his own gunshot wounds suffered that night by her alleged killer, but he's also pained by accusations that he bears some blame for her fate.
"They've got me looking like a monster," Jon Mitchell-Momoh said Wednesday in reference to the second-degree murder charges against Cedric Lamont Berry for the death of 28-year-old Monique Baugh.
Search warrant affidavits tied her killing to a suspected drug rivalry between Mitchell-Momoh and Berry, while a criminal complaint said the bloodshed occurred after Mitchell-Momoh was "flaunting his cash on social media." As a result, he's been the target of blame on social media in the death of the mother of their two children.
"I've never seen that Cedric dude in my life," said Mitchell-Momoh, 29, whose success on the local rap-music scene has been growing. "I don't know him. … I really want to clear the air. It's like I murdered her. This has really hurt my heart."
Berry, 41, was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court with one count each of second-degree attempted murder with intent, second-degree murder with intent and kidnapping in the shooting of Baugh and the wounding of Mitchell-Momoh. He made his first court appearance Tuesday, where bail remained at $2 million, despite Berry's insistence through his attorney that he was innocent.
The charges say that Berry and an unnamed accomplice kidnapped Baugh, an agent for Kris Lindahl Real Estate, from a Maple Grove home she was showing about 3 p.m. that day and drove her in a rental truck to a Minneapolis alley in the 1300 block of N. Russell Avenue. Berry then allegedly shot her several times at close range about 6:38 p.m.
Her death came less than an hour after Berry is alleged to have arrived at Baugh and Mitchell-Momoh's Minneapolis house in the 4800 block of N. Humboldt Avenue about 5:40 p.m. and shot him several times while the couple's 1- and 3-year-old daughters were inside.
Charging documents don't specify a motive but noted that Mitchell-Momoh, who performs under the name Momoh, recently signed a music contract.
Berry's long and violent gang history includes convictions for manslaughter, drug dealing, aggravated robbery, illegal weapons possession and fleeing police.
"They have it was like I'm in a gang," said Mitchell-Momoh, who acknowledges a couple of drug-related scrapes with the law years ago but nothing more serious. "I don't have a gang-life background."
Mitchell-Momoh suspects that music industry infighting might be behind Baugh being killed and his gunshot wounds to the groin, a shoulder and below the heart.
"I think it's because I really do not want to be around their crowd," Mitchell-Momoh said, while declining to be more specific because "police and I are still working on the case."
Police said Wednesday they continue to investigate the case and no additional arrests have been made or charges filed.
In general, Momoh said, "I believe this is all because of jealousy and envy. There are people out there that would rather see me dead than successful. Even if that means kill the mother of my children."
With Baugh gone and many questions surrounding her death, Mitchell-Momoh ponders the future the two of them could have had.
"I knew Monique since she was 16," he said. "She was in her prime. We were just getting started."
In a Facebook video by Mitchell-Momoh on Christmas morning, the happy parents looked on and laughed as their daughters, wearing matching pajamas, unwrapped dozens of gifts.
"Thank you, baby!" Baugh laughed after a daughter opened one of Baugh's gifts for her.
"It's Monopoly. It's a board game!" she said after another gift was opened. "Mommy will show you how to play it."
Kris Lindahl Real Estate started an online fundraising effort on behalf of Baugh's survivors and pledged to match the first $10,000 in donations. The effort has raised more than $29,000.
A second effort organized by her father, Frank Baugh, has raised more than $7,000.