Jurors on Monday found a former Hennepin County probation officer guilty on all counts against her in the brutal 2019 kidnapping and murder of a north Minneapolis woman whose boyfriend was the intended target.
Elsa Segura, 29, was found guilty of using a "burner phone" and alias to lure Realtor Monique Baugh to a bogus home showing in Maple Grove on Dec. 31, 2019. There, two men kidnapped her before torturing her for information about the whereabouts of her boyfriend, who had had a falling out with Segura's boyfriend.
Segura was found guilty in Hennepin County District Court on one count each of aiding and abetting the following: premeditated first-degree murder, attempted premeditated first-degree murder, kidnapping and first-degree felony murder while committing kidnapping.
The jury of seven women and five men left the courtroom about noon after hearing closing arguments, and reached guilty verdicts about 3:30 p.m.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Paige Starkey told jurors in her closing arguments that Segura lied when she testified last Friday that she had no knowledge of the plot and was manipulated by a demanding boyfriend.
"She's asking you to believe that she didn't know that violence was going to be the result of these actions," Starkey said. "No one is that clueless. No one. She is a smart person who is trying to play dumb, because it's her only defense — it's the last defense she has left. Don't let her get away with that."
Prosecutors have said Segura helped her boyfriend, Lyndon A. Wiggins, in order to maintain their relationship, which had been rocked by his infidelity.
Two men kidnapped Baugh, 28, from the home showing and, in the back of a U-Haul truck pressed her for the whereabouts of her boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh, who was in a business dispute with Wiggins over a record label contract.
Baugh and Mitchell-Momoh have two daughters, ages 4 and 2.
Evidence at Segura's trial also showed that Wiggins accused Mitchell-Momoh of snitching on his drug trafficking, leading authorities to arrest Wiggins in October 2019 and to raid Segura's Fridley home that same month. Wiggins pleaded guilty in federal court in the drug case. He agreed to a prison term of at least 15 years and up to life in prison.
Segura's attorney, Amanda Montgomery, told jurors her client had no knowledge of a kidnapping or murder plot, and that the prosecution's case was pure speculation.
"She told you the truth as she testified in this courtroom," Montgomery said. "Is it reasonable that if she knew about a kidnapping she would make this call and put her own life, her career on the line? No, that is not reasonable."
Prosecutors presented no evidence that Segura knew about the plot, Montgomery argued, noting that cellphone data that showed Segura and Wiggins in contact with each other or in the same location before, during and after the incident was not enough to prove her client guilty.
"She was never told by Mr. Wiggins what was planned or what was going to happen," Montgomery said. "She loved him. She did things for him in the past that never resulted in criminal charges."
Segura testified last week that she was used to doing favors for Wiggins, who used a financial commitment to control her and who choked her on one occasion when she tried to break up with him.
She said he asked her to set up a home showing for his associates from out of state, presumably, she said, so they could use the house to stash drugs.
Segura testified that she had used her real name, financial information and personal contact information to rent a condo for Wiggins, lease a truck for him and make several purchases for him, including plane tickets, bus tickets and items she assumed were associated with his drug trafficking.
Under cross-examination from Starkey last week, Segura admitted that she set up the home showing for Wiggins because she wanted to maintain their relationship. She testified that she did not think her call to Baugh was any different from the previous times she helped Wiggins.
Starkey told jurors Monday that Segura's sudden use of an alias and burner phone to call and text Baugh was evidence of her knowing participation and guilt.
"Now … she's trying to claim she didn't know this was any different?" Starkey said of the Baugh case. "She's trying to equate those things? They're not the same — for a million reasons they're not the same.
"No one is that stupid. She is not that stupid, and frankly, neither are you."
The men who kidnapped and killed Baugh and shot and wounded Mitchell-Momoh — Cedric Berry and Berry Davis — were convicted of the same counts against Segura and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Wiggins and Shante Davis, who is Davis' sister and Berry's wife, are also charged in the case and are awaiting trial.
Segura is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9.