A Dakota County jury on Tuesday convicted a 20-year-old Minneapolis man of repeatedly stabbing a Burnsville man and then leaving him to die amid fires set in his home.

Irvin Scott Cook was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder and four other felonies after a co-defendant testified against him.

The victim, Paul Traub, 54, survived an attack so savage that he was left with 20 stab wounds, sprawled amid flames that were spreading through his bedroom, a Dakota County prosecutor said as he rested his case on Monday.

"They did everything they could to kill Mr. Traub," said Scott Hersey, head of the county attorney's criminal division.

When the jury's guilty verdicts were read -- including attempted second-degree murder, first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and auto theft -- Cook showed no emotion. His father, seated in the courtroom in Hastings, wept.

Hersey told the jury that it was clear that Cook and his friend had been determined to kill Traub before making off with a few items and setting fires in nearly every room to burn his body.

The key to the case was prosecution witness Shaquen Whitfield, 21, of Prior Lake, who has pleaded guilty to attempted murder and other charges in the case. Whitfield has been hoping to get a break when he's sentenced in June.

Those two and a third man, Lance Wilkins, had been charged in the case. But now, the prosecution maintains that Wilkins was involved only after the attack, when he used his ID as the trio pawned a coin stolen from the Traub home for $9.

The prosecutor said that on May 10, 2008, Cook and Whitfield stole a Ford Explorer from a nearby motel, rolled it and then walked two blocks before they came upon Traub's townhouse. Traub was targeted because he had gone to bed without shutting his overhead garage door.

Soon the two were inside the house, Hersey said, switching off circuit breakers to lights. They ripped out a phone and smashed Traub's cell phone. And they removed a smoke detector's cover and battery.

Traub awoke, saw Whitfield, and began escorting him out of the house, Hersey said. But Cook "lunged out of the darkness" and stabbed Traub several times in the head.

Then, the prosecutor said, Cook handed the knife to Whitfield, saying: "I did my part. Now you have to do your part. You have to kill him."

After Whitfield stabbed Traub in the back 17 times, the attackers sprayed and doused him with flammable products and tried to ignite him. They turned on gas burners and set eight fires in five rooms.

As the flames on his bed and from two other fires in his bedroom began to rise and spread, Traub stood up. He testified that he saw a man standing in his bedroom doorway, illuminated by the light from the flames. That man told Traub that he wasn't going anywhere and ordered him to get back down on the floor.

After the invaders left in his car, Traub, covered in blood, ran through a wall of fire to get help.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017