A Dakota County man convicted of second-degree murder for plowing his minivan into an Eagan couple last year was sentenced to 47 years in prison Friday.
Jonna Kojo Armartey, 38, formerly of Eagan, was sentenced in Dakota County District Court in connection with the crash that killed Diane Peterson, 58, and Roger Peterson, 74, on June 28, 2018. Armartey deliberately used his vehicle as a weapon to target two complete strangers, authorities say.
In addition to a near-life sentence, Judge Shawn Moynihan ordered Armartey to pay restitution in the case.
“We are pleased to have brought Jonna Armartey to justice for causing this senseless and violent crime that tragically killed two individuals in our community,” said County Attorney James Backstrom, who offered condolences to the Peterson family.
Armartey pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in August 2018, several weeks after he drove his Dodge Caravan into the Petersons as they walked in a strip-mall parking lot on Hwy. 13 in Eagan.
According to the criminal complaint, Armartey told police that the Petersons had “freaked him out,” and “further stated that he was going fast and he hit them hard.”
Police found the couple bleeding and struggling to breathe in the parking lot. They were pronounced dead at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
The Petersons, who were married for 37 years, had two children together and two children from Roger Peterson’s previous marriage.
After hitting the couple, Armartey fled the scene, abandoning his minivan less than a mile away outside a restaurant.
Officers found that the silver minivan had a cracked windshield and front-end damage, and discovered Diane Peterson’s cellphone stuck under a windshield wiper. They also could see prescription pill bottles in the van with Armartey’s name, the complaint said.
Several hours later, police arrested Armartey at an Apple Valley motel.
Backstrom said it’s unknown why Armartey appeared to have targeted the Petersons. But investigators discovered that the day before, police had responded to a dispute between Armartey and family members at an apartment near where the Petersons were later killed. Armartey was booted from the apartment and was seen moving his belongings into the minivan involved in the crash.
Armartey was on probation for three felony convictions at the time. He was convicted of motor-vehicle theft, third-degree assault of a corrections officer and fourth-degree assault of a psychiatrist in March 2016.
Staff writer Erin Adler contributed to this report.