A Hennepin County District Court jury has found two people guilty in connection with a violent rampage that left two dead and other victims terrorized, the county attorney’s office announced Friday.
Albert McIntosh, 32, and Michelle Koester, 43, were on trial for murder, aggravated robbery and burglary after the pair — and three other defendants — were involved in a crime spree across the Twin Cities on Oct. 18, 2015, that started out as a grab for some quick cash and credit cards.
Five hours later, two people had been killed, a man robbed at gunpoint on the street and a family made to plead for their lives during a home invasion.
McIntosh and Koester were charged with aiding and abetting first-degree robbery, aiding and abetting second-degree murder, aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, aiding and abetting first-degree burglary and aiding and abetting first-degree burglary committed with a weapon. Koester was also on trial for two counts of aiding an offender, McIntosh, after the fact — but she was found guilty of only one count.
“These were not random crimes,” Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Therese Galatowitsch told the jury in her closing arguments Thursday. “They were targeting people in the Hispanic community.”
The night of the crimes, Koester brought the co-defendants together to commit a robbery, Galatowitsch said. “It all started with her,” she said. “She called all of them.”
Earlier that day, Koester contacted Alvin Bell, who then brought Isiah Harper.
Koester picked up McIntosh, who was her boyfriend, and asked Shannon Haiden to be one of the drivers.
“[Koester’s] text messages revealed all of that planning, including telling them they would need a pole, their term for a gun,” Galatowitsch said in a statement from the county attorney’s office.
Koester was near the scene of all the crimes, but she never got out of the car.
McIntosh was “the man who was in charge when they went out into the field,” Galatowitsch said. “He was the one who suggested the Hispanic neighborhoods because people there were more likely to carry cash and less likely to call police.”
The first victim was Sarah Wierstad, a 24-year-old mother who interrupted a burglary at her St. Paul apartment just before 8 p.m. She was fatally shot, according to charges filed in Ramsey County District Court. McIntosh was the accused shooter but was acquitted of those charges at his trial in Ramsey County.
Shortly after 9 p.m., the group robbed a man at gunpoint behind his Minneapolis apartment building, according to the Hennepin County charges. His credit cards and car were used at another gas station. Another house was burglarized about 9:30 p.m. in Minneapolis, during which the group stole a laptop computer, jewelry, $2,300 in cash and a car.
Julio Mozo-Cuate, 42, became the next homicide victim at 10 p.m. He was robbed, shot and left for dead in an alley in Minneapolis, the charges say.
The group then decided to invade a home in south Minneapolis, terrifying a couple and their four children, who were ordered to lie on the floor.
Police later found the “whole cache of credit cards, Social Security cards, bank cards” in Koester’s garage, Galatowitsch said. Koester had gone with the group to a Wal-Mart to purchase items using the stolen cards. She also tried to sell an X-Box stolen in the burglary.
McIntosh and Koester will be sentenced March 16. The other defendants have pleaded guilty in Hennepin County and are awaiting sentencing.