Gang member gets 38-year sentence
A St. Paul gang member was sentenced Thursday to nearly 38 years in prison for fatally shooting an innocent man caught in the middle of a gang feud. Desean L. Thomas, 23, was sentenced in Ramsey County District Court to 37½ years for second-degree murder, crime committed for the benefit of a gang in the March 30, 2012, murder of Leonard Christian Sr.
Thomas' original sentencing date was pushed back from earlier this month after he fired his two attorneys and filed a motion for a new trial. Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas denied his motion Thursday. Jurors convicted Thomas in May of four counts in Christian's murder. Rosas did not issue sentences for the other three counts.
Thomas was acquitted of six other counts, including first-degree murder. Police said Thomas knocked on Christian's back door in the 1000 block of W. Central Avenue in St. Paul just before 3 a.m. on the day of the shooting. Thomas shot Christian, 56, as he walked through the kitchen to answer the door.
Thomas and two other members of the Hustle Made Mafia were looking for members of a rival gang. Christian's son is an alleged member of the rival gang. The two gangs had been feuding, and two shootings had preceded the murder.
Woman killed crossing busy street
A 21-year-old woman crossing in the middle of the block along a busy road in Brooklyn Center was run over and killed, authorities said Thursday. TaQuaire D. McKenzie, of Minneapolis, was struck shortly before 10 p.m. Monday on Brooklyn Boulevard between and 64th and 65th avenues N., according to police. McKenzie was taken to North Memorial Medical Center and died there Tuesday morning, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office said. Police Cmdr. Tony Gruenig said McKenzie and another person were walking west across Brooklyn Boulevard and stepped into the southbound lanes. One car avoided hitting the pair, but a second car struck McKenzie, Gruenig said. The driver stopped and cooperated immediately.
Estate seller allegedly bilked clients
A Hopkins woman stole nearly $150,000 from clients of her estate-sale business, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Thursday. Mary Jane Thompson, 71, has been charged with one count of theft over $35,000. In the alleged scheme, which ran from June 2013 until this week, she failed to give $148,000 to her clients from the sale of their property.
"Thompson had built a solid business as MJ & Associates doing moving and estate sales for many years," Freeman said in a prepared statement. "Why she suddenly started to cheat her clients is not clear, but it doesn't matter. Those clients were counting on the money, she held onto it, and we will now prosecute her vigorously."
South St. Paul
Robbery suspect sought
South St. Paul police are looking for a man in connection with a Thursday robbery of a credit union. Police responded about 3:30 p.m. to a robbery at the Wakota Federal Credit Union, 1151 Southview Blvd. Investigators said no gun was seen but the man implied he had one. Police were told a credit union customer followed the man but lost sight of him after a few blocks. Police and police K-9s searched the area without finding him. The robbery is being investigated by the police and FBI. Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call police at 651-554-3300. A reward is offered for information leading to the identity, arrest and conviction of the suspect.
Mary Lynn Smith
Slaying suspect ruled incompetent
Nhan Lap Tran, an Oakdale man accused of shooting and killing a 9-year-old boy in 2013, is incompetent to stand trial and will spend another six months in the state mental hospital because he's not rational enough to consult with his attorneys, Washington County District Judge Gary Schurrer ruled this week.
Tran, now 36, faces several counts of second-degree murder for randomly shooting at passing cars on a cold night in February 2013. He stood on Hadley Avenue near Seventh Street, about a block from his home in Oakdale, when he allegedly shot and killed Devin Aryal, 9, who was seated behind his mother as she drove the family van. Another woman, driving with her three grandchildren, was injured when her vehicle was sprayed with bullets.
Mom faces trial in baby's drowning
A St. Paul woman at first found incompetent to stand trial for allegedly drowning her 6-year-old daughter in the family's bathtub was re-evaluated and has been found competent to proceed with the case. A report dated July 2 found Kayla M. Jones, 25, competent to stand trial, Ramsey County District Judge Elena Ostby said Thursday.