The alleged mastermind behind the killing of a 23-year-old woman during a Brooklyn Park home invasion last fall has been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.
Erick D. Haynes, 22, Brooklyn Park, appeared Friday in Hennepin County District Court where prosecutors announced additional charges that accuse him of plotting the burglary that was carried out by two teenagers, one of whom allegedly ended up fatally shooting Zaria McKeever. Haynes initially was charged with two lesser counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Haynes remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail and is due back in court on Aug. 25. A message was left with his attorney seeking a response to the new indictment.
In April, Gov. Tim Walz appointed Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to take over the high-profile murder case from County Attorney Mary Moriarty, a rare step meant to quell a public backlash against the plea deals offered to the two teens.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Ellison said, "My office and I are using the full extent of the law to pursue justice for Zaria McKeever and her family."
Moriarty had been on the record saying she had a grand jury scheduled with the intention of having Haynes indicted on first-degree murder charges.
Ellison's appointment, over Moriarty's objections, came after weeks of mounting pressure by McKeever's relatives, who were outraged by what they viewed as a miscarriage of justice for survivors. Ellison criticized Moriarty's handling of the case during a community meeting, noting that the sentence proposed for the "shooter in this heinous crime is inappropriate."
Attorneys originally moved to certify the two teenage brothers, ages 15 and 17, as adults so they could stand trial for second-degree murder alongside Haynes, suspected of orchestrating the break-in. But in February, Moriarty abruptly changed course, offering the boys a plea deal that would spare them a lengthy adult prison sentence in exchange for their testimony against Haynes.
The older boy, 17-year-old John Kamara, accepted a plea agreement last month that will result in a maximum two-year sentence in a juvenile facility and probation until his 21st birthday. Violating the terms of his probation could immediately trigger a 12-year sentence.
Prosecution of the accused shooter, now 16, as a juvenile continues toward a possible trial.