Jurors wrapped up the first murder trial in Hennepin County since coronavirus-related restrictions were eased, convicting a man Tuesday for a shooting death in a Hennepin Avenue parking lot.
James Wren, 36, of Minneapolis was found guilty in District Court after three hours of deliberation of unintentional second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of 40-year-old Michael Clark and the wounding of another man, who was left paralyzed. The jurors acquitted Wren of first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder.
Wren remains jailed before sentencing on July 30. Prosecutors say they will seek a term of more than 27 years.
With trials resuming in early June, the courtroom was rearranged to allow social distancing among jurors, attorneys and spectators for the 15-day trial.
“We thought the jury did a fine job under a difficult situation,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. “Although we sought charges for intentional conduct, we are satisfied with the results. We remain confident that [Judge Nicole Engisch] will sentence Mr. Wren for an extended period of time.”
According to prosecutors:
At 2:15 a.m. on June 10, 2019, police were called to a fight in a parking lot on Hennepin Avenue near Augie’s nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. As they arrived, they heard gunshots. A tow-truck driver saw the shooting and pointed to the fleeing Wren. Police arrested Wren after a short chase.
Between extensive surveillance video and the eyewitness testimony, prosecutors outlined to the jury how Wren got into a fight in the parking lot with the two victims.
Wren left but returned a short time later with a gun, walked to near the front of the parked tow truck and fired repeatedly at the two victims.
Along with this case, Wren’s criminal record includes a conviction for first-degree assault that prohibited him from possessing a gun.