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The man responsible for killing a St. Louis Park father of two in May received a four-year sentence Monday as part of a plea deal, over objections from the victim's family.

Relatives and friends of Antonio Levar Moore, 37, filled the Hennepin County courtroom hoping to see Judge William H. Koch reject the plea deal for Demetrius Lamar Harris, 28, of New Hope. As part of the deal, Harris pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter, and in exchange, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office agreed to drop a second-degree murder charge that would have carried a higher presumptive sentence.

When Harris was charged in May, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty issued a statement saying her thoughts were with the Moore family — "especially his sister who he was protecting during this incident." Moriarty added that her office would "aggressively prosecute this case to hold Mr. Harris accountable."

Moriarty's spokesman, Nick Kimball, said in a statement Tuesday that prosecutors agreed to the plea deal because Harris had "a reasonable self-defense claim" and based on the evidence, second-degree manslaughter was "the appropriate charge."

"Antonio Moore's death was tragic and devastating to his family. While we will always aggressively prosecute these cases, ultimately we are bound by the evidence that is available and admissible in court," Kimball said. "This outcome ensured that Mr. Harris would be held accountable for his conduct, and he is now headed to prison."

Moore's mother, Mary Terrell, said a plea bargain was never discussed with the family. Rather, she said, prosecutors told them about it just before Harris' plea hearing Sept. 18.

"They don't care about us," Terrell said. "I got two grandkids who will never see their dad again."

Antonio Levar Moore with his daughters.
Antonio Levar Moore with his daughters.


Moore leaves behind daughters Na'Kyia, 12, and Aneyah, 8, and a large family from the Twin Cities and Chicago who attended Harris' sentencing. Moore's mother, aunts and siblings shared victim impact statements while his nieces sat in the courtroom gallery, so small their feet dangled from the folding seats.

Harris made a brief apology, saying, "Sorry for your loss."

Terrell said Harris' sentence isn't enough.

"All he's gonna do is sit there, 'I got two years, I'm gonna watch this clock and I'm gonna get out,'" she said. "And that's the message you're sending people."

Harris will be allowed out of custody in about two years. He has credit for serving nearly six months in jail, and Minnesota allows the remaining third of a sentence to be served on supervised release.

Prosecutor Amy Blagoev said in court that she knows the family does not agree with the plea, but no amount of time that Harris spends behind bars will make up for their loss.

Charges say that on May 2, Moore's sister called him for help after Harris punched her twice in the face. She and Harris were co-parenting their child, but were not in a relationship.

When Moore arrived at the Brooklyn Center apartment, the men got into a fight. Harris stabbed Moore and fled. He was arrested that night and charged three days later.

Deon Terrell said in his victim impact statement that his brother is gone "because of someone's selfish act of bringing a knife to a fistfight. That's a coward to me."

"We are in total disagreement with this plea deal," he added. "There should be no deal."

Moore's aunt Carnita Terrell of Chicago said her nephew was her "cheerleader for living and his smile made my heart melt."

Edson Rosales held a stack of old photos from his years growing up with Antonio Moore. Here Moore is shown on prom day at Hopkins High School.
Edson Rosales held a stack of old photos from his years growing up with Antonio Moore. Here Moore is shown on prom day at Hopkins High School.

Kim Hyatt, Star Tribune

Moore's daughters never missed a weekly phone call to tell her about school and say they love her, Terrell said. Every October for her birthday, Moore would come to Chicago to celebrate with her, she said.

"We are distraught at his death," Terrell said. "You took a young, gifted Black man. Priceless. [Harris] took a life, therefore he should get life."

In response to the family's objections, Koch explained that he followed state sentencing guidelines. "Don't squander this" opportunity to make things right, he later told Harris.

As Koch accepted the plea negotiation, Moore's mother abruptly stood, threw a balled-up tissue toward Koch and walked out of the courtroom.

Koch continued, saying to those still left in the courtroom that while he knows it "sounds insulting," he ordered Harris to pay a $50 fine. The rest of Moore's family then got up and left, leaving the standing-room-only courtroom nearly empty.

Edson Rosales, 38, of St. Paul was Moore's best friend since they were teenagers attending Hopkins High School. After the sentencing, he showed Moore's mother old photos of him and Moore at prom, at Twins games, and volunteering at a food shelf fundraiser.

"The fact that they're not giving any value to his life and the way that it was taken, it's just very shocking," Rosales said. "I feel so sorry for his mom and daughters. It's just horrible how they think four years can do anything. Or that a life is valued at that amount.

"He was the best friend I could've found. He was a family member," he said. "Some days I pick up my phone and I want to message or call him. It's still unbelievable that he's not here."