A 35-year-old St. Paul man charged with murder after driving into an Uptown protest in Minneapolis in June has been found competent to stand trial in Hennepin County District Court.
Judge Paul Scoggin entered the finding Friday morning regarding the mental state of Nicholas D. Kraus, based on a report by a court-appointed mental health expert. Neither the prosecution nor the defense objected to the determination.
Kraus was charged with second-degree intentional murder and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon after the June 13 crash that injured three protesters and killed Deona M. Knajdek, 31, of Minneapolis.
Knajdek was among protesters who gathered at W. Lake Street and Girard Avenue S. after a U.S. Marshals Service task force fatally shot Winston "Boogie" Smith Jr. on June 3 while attempting to arrest him.
Friday's hearing lasted less than 10 minutes and took place electronically with Kraus appearing from the jail. He didn't say anything other than to confirm that he could see and hear the judge.
According to the charges, Kraus, who didn't have a driver's license, admitted to accelerating toward the crowd in his SUV in hopes of vaulting over a vehicle parked as a barrier.
Earlier court documents said Kraus was acting "in a bizarre manner" moments after the crash, telling an officer his name was Jesus Christ or Tim Burton, the movie director, and "that he has been a carpenter for 2,000 years."
Kraus was "answering questions that were irrelevant" and wanted an officer to "tell his dead mother that he doesn't like her," previous documents said.
Intentional murder charges are rare for deaths involving vehicles, but Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in the days after the crash that Kraus was intoxicated when he committed an "extreme and violent intentional act" that killed a peaceful protester.
Kraus has five drunken-driving convictions, most recently in 2016 in Anoka County. He also was convicted numerous times of driving without a valid license and for assault, failure to have auto insurance and giving police a false name.
He lost his license after a drunken-driving conviction in 2013, according to state officials.
Kraus remained jailed Friday on $1 million bail. His next hearing is set for Oct. 6, when the court is expected to consider whether Kraus was sane at the time of the incident.
Neither side is bound by the opinion and ultimately a jury could be asked to determine whether Kraus was not guilty by reason of insanity.
Knajdek was a project manager for a vulnerable-adult service provider and a mother of two girls.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747