The family of a Plymouth man killed during a 2019 attempted carjacking made clear its disagreement over the Hennepin County Attorney's Office seeking probation for the accomplice after the other gunman was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty informed the family of Steven Markey that prosecutors planned to request that Husayn Braveheart be spared a lengthy lockup for the killing of Markey, 39, who was shot in broad daylight in northeast Minneapolis. Braveheart was 15 at the time of the shooting and is now 20. His co-defendant Jered Ohsman, then 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2020 and admitted to firing the fatal shot.
"It's an insult to my son, but that's not the point. My son is gone," said Steven's father, Jerry Markey.
Braveheart is charged with first-degree aggravated robbery and aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Moriarty said her office wants Braveheart to serve up to one year in the county workhouse with five years of probation, during which he would have to remain law-abiding; otherwise the court could impose the same sentence as Ohsman's.
"My commitment to Steven Markey's family is that we will do everything that we possibly can to make sure that no other family suffers through the devastating and tragic loss of their loved one," Moriarty said at a news conference Monday.
Both teens had their cases moved from juvenile to adult court, but it took years of litigation for Braveheart's case to finally land there after the Minnesota Supreme Court had to weigh in, ruling in November that Braveheart should be tried as an adult.
He's remained in custody and completed two residential treatment programs, Moriarty said, adding that he has been "extraordinarily responsive to the carefully selected treatment that he has been able to access since he's been incarcerated in jail for the last four years."
She said the focus needs to be on rehabilitation, not punishment, and acknowledged the Markey family's anger and grief.
"My job as county attorney is to look at where Braveheart is right now. And he is in a very, very different place than he was when he committed the violence against their loved one."
District Judge Michael Burns said on Monday that he has been advised by the state and through letters from the Markey family that "they did not agree with the negotiation." He also said that given short notice of the plea, not everyone from the family could attend so he postponed the plea hearing until Friday to allow the family more time.
But Burns said he would not immediately accept the plea Friday and wait until sentencing to decide what is appropriate for Braveheart.
Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Michael Berger, who attended Monday's hearing, said in a written statement that the plea "reflects the specific facts of this case, our client's extraordinary efforts towards rehabilitation, and well-established evidence on adolescent brain science."
In the split Supreme Court decision, justices noted Braveheart's prior delinquency cases involving multiple felony and misdemeanor charges. At the time, he had not successfully completed any treatment programs.
Justice Paul Thissen wrote in his 49-page dissenting opinion favoring juvenile court for Braveheart that he grew up on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His mother was an addict and his father has been incarcerated his entire life. When he was 6, child protective services (CPS) placed Braveheart in foster care, but he was often on the run.
Thissen also acknowledged the cost of Braveheart's crime with the slaying of Markey, a beloved man who gave back to the community: growing out his hair for Locks of Love and starting a business with his mom, who is a paralegal, to help expunge old criminal records.
The Minnesota Supreme Court said the District Court incorrectly ruled Braveheart's trauma from lifelong instability in CPS made him less culpable.
Both then-teens drew semiautomatic pistols at Markey around 4:50 p.m. on June 11, 2019, near the intersection of 14th Avenue and Tyler Street NE. Ohsman told police he ordered Markey out of the vehicle and shot him after seeing him reach for something. Braveheart fired at the vehicle as a bleeding Markey drove off. The teens fled and were arrested after crashing a stolen SUV in St. Louis Park.
Jerry Markey, who lives in Minneapolis, maintained that he and others are at risk if Braveheart is allowed out anytime soon.
"What is reasonable? What makes sense?" he asked. "I'm not coming from hate. I don't hate anyone. I hope that [Braveheart] can sometime become a real productive citizen and spread peace and love in the world. But so far, his entire life has given no indication of that."