A Hennepin County jury convicted two men Friday of kidnapping a real estate agent from a fake home showing in 2019 and fatally shooting her in a Minneapolis alley.
A year and half after Monique Baugh's killing, Cedric Berry and Berry Davis, both 42, were found guilty in Hennepin County District Court of all four charges filed against both of them — 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.
The jury began deliberating shortly after 1 p.m. and returned their verdicts about 4:30 p.m. They were read in court about 5 p.m.
Baugh's mother, Wanda Williams Baugh, let out a cry and nodded her head as the first conviction was read. She wept as all eight convictions were announced.
"What a phenomenal team," she said of the prosecutors and investigators afterward. "And thank you to the jury."
Williams Baugh, who testified last week in the defendants' joint trial, said it was difficult to anticipate how jurors would decide the case despite "overwhelming" evidence.
"It's hard to expect anything," she said. "I couldn't be more happy. … I miss [Monique] every single day."
Baugh, 28, left behind two daughters who were 3 and 1.
Williams Baugh and Monique's father, Frank Baugh, were critical of Berry's testimony in court Thursday during which he denied any involvement in the plot.
"He wasn't sincere at all," Frank Baugh said. "No remorse, no nothing."
Berry and Davis are scheduled to be sentenced July 12.
In their closing arguments earlier Friday, prosecutors said the men were part of a scheme aimed at getting to Baugh's boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh, who had a feud with a former business associate and drug dealer, Lyndon Wiggins. Mitchell-Momoh was shot and wounded twice in the chest and once in the groin after Baugh was kidnapped from a Maple Grove home on Dec. 31, 2019.
"They kept her for three terrifying hours while they went and put three bullets in her partner in front of their children, and they drove her to a dark alley in north Minneapolis in a U-Haul … and executed her," said Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Paige Starkey.
The defense teams told jurors in their closing arguments that prosecutors pieced an incomplete case together under pressure from the attention Baugh's killing received from the community and local and national press. One of Berry's attorneys, Tanya Bishop, said no witnesses identified her client at any of the scenes and that police and prosecutors failed to thoroughly investigate other leads and suspects.
The day Baugh was killed, Berry was selling drugs, Bishop said, adding that he is being used "in an elaborate scheme as a patsy when he was doing regular things that he thought were part of a drug deal and nothing more. What he did is what he usually did for drugs, drug dealing — renting vehicles, purchase burner phones, changed his number."
Starkey told jurors Berry is "most likely the shooter" and that three gunshots penetrated Baugh's brain, heart and spine.
Berry and Davis are the first of five suspects charged in the case to go to trial. Wiggins and his girlfriend, former Hennepin County probation officer Elsa Segura, are awaiting trial on the same charges filed against Berry and Davis.
Berry's wife, Shante Davis, is awaiting trial on one count of aiding an offender. She is also Berry Davis' sister.
Berry testified Thursday that he, Berry Davis and Wiggins all worked together selling drugs.
Mitchell-Momoh testified last week that he left Wiggins' music label in 2019 and Wiggins accused him of stealing music. Starkey told jurors Friday that in the fall or winter of that year, Wiggins was arrested and told Segura he believed Mitchell-Momoh had "snitched" on him to authorities.
Wiggins pleaded guilty last month in federal court to possessing and intending to distribute 33,140 imitation oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. He agreed to a prison term of at least 15 years and up to life in prison. It's unknown if the case is related to Wiggins' alleged complaint about Mitchell-Momoh.
In November 2019, Berry was arrested in a drug investigation; he was released from jail without being charged, Starkey said.
According to Starkey: On Dec. 29, 2019, Berry purchased a cellphone and registered it under a fake name. That same day, Berry, Davis and Wiggins traveled to Segura's house, and then to a shopping center where Davis purchased cleaning solution and two-way radios. Segura allegedly used the phone Berry purchased to lure Baugh to the fake home showing.
Cellphone data showed that Berry and Davis circled the Maple Grove home for 36 minutes on Dec. 30 — the first date Segura allegedly set up Baugh, Starkey said. Another real estate agent had also arrived to show the same house.
It's unclear if the Dec. 30 incident was a test run or a thwarted kidnapping, Starkey said.
Surveillance video showed Berry and Davis kidnapping Baugh in a U-Haul truck on Dec. 31, Starkey said. Berry had testified that he spent the day selling drugs and procured a U-Haul he briefly used to move personal belongings. He said he then left it alone because Wiggins needed it to transport marijuana.
Starkey told jurors Berry's testimony was "garbled nonsense and feeble denial" and that six of his fingerprints were found on the duct tape wrapped around Baugh's wrists and neck. His DNA was also found on zip ties found in the U-Haul, she said.
Davis' DNA was found on the gear shift of the U-Haul, Starkey said.
One of Davis' attorneys, Matt Jamet, told jurors prosecutors built their case on circumstantial evidence and that cellphone data doesn't correlate to a specific person's location.
"We are dealing with multiple phones that get switched around, and that creates a number of circumstances," Jamet said. "You're making guesses; you're taking stabs."
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708