A 30-year-old St. Paul man is facing murder charges, accused of fatally shooting a marijuana dealer during an early-morning home invasion, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
Brandon L. Cooper, exact address unknown, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder in the Nov. 7 killing of Justin Niles Wright.
Wright, a 31-year-old father of two, was asleep with his girlfriend at his home in the 2200 block of Hazel Street in Maplewood when someone broke in, she later told police. The woman admitted that she and Wright, who owned a painting business, sold pot out of the home and that some of her customers knew they kept large quantities of the plant inside.
According to the complaint:
A woman called police to report a shooting around 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7. When police arrived, she ran outside to meet them covered in blood, saying that her boyfriend had been shot. Police found Wright dead at the scene.
The woman said she awakened to hear an unknown male say, “Tell me where it’s at.” She saw Wright lunge toward a dark figure in the hallway before a single gunshot went off. Wright staggered through the house and collapsed on the living-room floor.
That afternoon, authorities located a handgun, a black hoodie and blue knit gloves within half a mile of the crime scene. Bullets found in the weapon matched a spent casing at the scene, and DNA evidence on the gun’s grip matched Cooper’s DNA profile, investigators said.
GPS data on Cooper’s phone also showed that it was in the area during the time of the homicide, according to the complaint. A police informant later told authorities that Cooper was part of a burglary ring targeting known marijuana dealers for home invasions.
Cooper has felony convictions for theft, simple robbery and assault in the second degree. His first court appearance will be Monday.