A St. Paul man, who admitted pressing the barrel of a handgun into his girlfriend's face and pulling the trigger, blamed the woman Thursday for provoking her murder last April in front of their infant daughter.
Dimitri D. Harrell's attorney, Mark Todd, argued in Ramsey County District Court that that was the reason his client should receive a prison sentence of about 21 years instead of a term between the recommended guidelines of 26 to 36½ years.
But Ramsey County District Judge Jeff Bryan sentenced Harrell to 30½ years. He'll have to serve 20 years before he's eligible for supervised release.
Bryan said that the victim, Samirria White, 19, was not the aggressor.
"Mr. Harrell, there's no excuse, there's no reason for what you did," Bryan said.
The judge also denied Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Cory Tennison's request for the maximum sentence — 40 years — that Harrell could receive for his guilty plea to second-degree murder.
Todd argued that White insulted Harrell and blocked him from leaving their bedroom. He said Harrell acted "under acute duress" when he shot White while he held and tried to protect the couple's 3-month-old daughter.
Tennison strongly objected to Todd's characterization of the events that night.
"He had three feet on her, 15 to 20 pounds on her," Tennison said. "Are you kidding me? He was trying to protect the baby?"
Sometime after 3 a.m. on April 5, Harrell returned to the apartment that he shared with White. She was upset that he was out late. The two argued, and Harrell shot her.
"How could he take his daughter's mother from her?" White's mother, Shanta White, said to the court.
Harrell apologized Thursday for his actions.