One of two men on trial for the 2019 kidnapping and killing of a north Minneapolis woman testified Thursday that he was not involved in the crime and instead spent that time selling drugs.
Cedric Berry, 42, testified for about two hours, providing some details about his whereabouts the day Monique Baugh was killed, but also leaving gaps that invited scrutiny from prosecutors.
Berry also testified that he bought the cellphone used to lure Baugh, a real estate agent, to a fake home showing in Maple Grove where she was kidnapped, arranged to rent a U-Haul truck that was used to move her and was with two other suspects in the days leading up to her Dec. 31 death.
"You'd agree that's another absolutely horrible coincidence for yourself, right?" Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Thad Tudor asked regarding Berry's procurement of the U-Haul truck.
"Yes," Berry said.
Berry and Berry Davis, who are brothers-in-law, are being jointly tried in Hennepin County District Court on identical charges — aiding and abetting premeditated first-degree murder, aiding and abetting attempted premeditated first-degree murder, aiding and abetting kidnapping, and aiding and abetting first-degree felony murder while committing kidnapping.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday morning. Berry's defense called a few witnesses before putting him on the witness stand. Davis, 42, chose not to testify; his attorneys did not call any witnesses.
Both defense teams rested their cases in the afternoon. Closing arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, with jury deliberations to begin afterward.
Authorities allege that Berry and Davis were part of a scheme involving at least three others to kidnap Baugh in an effort to find her boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh.
Mitchell-Momoh, a musician, testified last week that he had left a music label in 2019 and was accused by a former business associate, Lyndon Wiggins, of stealing Wiggins' music.
Mitchell-Momoh was shot and wounded three times after Baugh was kidnapped. He was at a north Minneapolis townhouse owned by Baugh's mother at the time, and was caring for his and Baugh's two daughters, then 3 and 1.
Baugh, 28, was later fatally shot in a north Minneapolis alley. Tudor told jurors last week that her wrists had been bound with duct tape, some of her acrylic fingernails had been ripped off and that she suffered cuts, bruises and a chipped tooth while inside the back of the U-Haul truck.
Under questioning by one of his attorneys, Tanya Bishop, Berry testified that he needed a U-Haul truck in order to transport marijuana, so he asked one of his customers to rent one in exchange for heroin.
Berry said he obtained the truck about 11 a.m. or noon on Dec. 31 and used it to move a bed, TV and other items from one house to another.
Berry testified that he then spent the day selling drugs across Minneapolis and St. Paul using one of his personal vehicles. Berry also said that Davis had to meet with Wiggins, but did not specify the reason.
"It seems you're having trouble remembering things," Bishop asked. "Why is that?"
"I was drinking and smoking, so it's kind of a blur," said Berry.
He denied any involvement in the plot to kidnap Baugh and attack Mitchell-Momoh. He testified that he knew Wiggins.
Under cross-examination from Tudor, Berry testified that Davis and Wiggins were sitting in a car parked outside the day he bought the cellphone allegedly used later by Wiggins' then-girlfriend, Elsa Segura, to lure Baugh to the fake home showing.
Berry also testified that Wiggins, who went by the nickname "LA," had given him a fake name to register the phone.
Authorities have said Wiggins is friends with Davis, who is close with Berry. Berry is married to Davis' sister, Shante Davis.
Wiggins and Segura, a former Hennepin County probation officer, were each indicted by a grand jury and are awaiting trial on the same counts filed against Berry and Davis. Shante Davis is charged with aiding an offender. Her case is pending.