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The man who orchestrated the Brooklyn Park home invasion and killing of Zaria McKeever by a pair of teenage brothers pleaded guilty to murder Monday as jury selection in his trial was set to begin, while two co-defendants admitted in court to their role in the deadly scheme.

Erick Haynes entered the plea to one count of first-degree intentional murder while committing a felony and will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years, said his defense attorney Robert Paule, who declined to comment further. Sentencing was scheduled for April 12 after Hennepin County District Judge William Koch conditionally accepted Haynes' plea.

A panel of 65 potential jurors showed up for selection Monday morning. But throughout the day as each plea took place, the judge sent them home. In the end, there would be no trial in the high-profile case after all five defendants charged in McKeever's killing have now pled guilty.

Haynes, 23, was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and charged with two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the killing of McKeever, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. The remaining murder counts will be dismissed at sentencing.

His trial was to be held jointly with his sister and his sister's husband, who are also charged with felony aiding an offender after the fact. Koch conditionally accepted guilty pleas from Eriana and Tavion James, both 24, in the hours following Haynes' guilty plea.

After prosecutors filed charges against the Jameses, they married about two weeks later, according to records. Their attorneys objected to a joint trial with Haynes, who remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail. The Jameses are out of custody before their June 5 sentencing.

The three guilty pleas come a week after the teenage shooter admitted to killing McKeever on Nov. 8, 2022.

Foday Kevin Kamara, 17, of Brooklyn Park, pleaded guilty March 22 to aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder. He admitted to killing McKeever alongside his older brother, John Kamara, then 17, at the behest of Haynes, who armed the teens and drove them in his sister's car to the apartment of McKeever's new boyfriend. Foday unleashed a flurry of gunfire after the brothers broke the door down and confronted McKeever, though they were looking for the boyfriend.

Erick Haynes
Erick Haynes

Hennepin County Jail

John Kamara accepted a plea deal offer from Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty last March before Attorney General Keith Ellison took over prosecution. After mounting pressure from McKeever's family over Moriarty's plea deal offers that would spare the teens prison time and were decried as too lenient, Gov. Tim Walz reassigned the case to Ellison at his request.

In a statement, Ellison said that Monday was "another important step toward justice for Zaria and her family."

"We all — her family and her child most of all — continue to suffer her loss. I thank and honor the McKeever family for their steadfast pursuit of justice for Zaria. We must all as a community surround them with the love and support they need on their journey toward healing."

On May 8, Foday Kamara will be sentenced to 10 years in adult prison. Meanwhile, John Kamara is serving a two-year sentence at the juvenile correctional site in Red Wing and will be on probation until his 21st birthday.

Assistant Attorneys General Erin Eldridge and Leah Erickson didn't allege any of the adults shot McKeever, but that they all conspired before, during or immediately after the murder.

Tavion James pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree assault and faces up to 3½ years in prison. Eriana James pleaded guilty to an amended charge of aiding first-degree assault and faces up to fours years in prison.

They both admitted to their roles in the aftermath of the murder and to what they knew when they talked to police. They ultimately lied about what happened.

The Jameses, who were living in a Brooklyn Center hotel because they were homeless, said that Haynes and Foday Kamara woke them up by frantically banging on their door. They were told John Kamara had been shot in the leg and was out in the car, so the Jameses drove the wounded teen to the hospital.

In court, Tavion James said even though he knew Foday accidentally shot John during the home invasion, he didn't tell police. Eriana James said even though she got a phone call on the way to the hospital from a friend who said McKeever had been shot, she also didn't tell police. Both said they lied to protect the young brothers and Haynes, and came up with a fake story to help Haynes and Foday Kamara elude police.

The last-minute pleas did not come as a surprise to McKeever's relatives, who have long fought for tougher penalties against Haynes and his co-defendants.

"They don't want to face the outcome of a trial," McKeever's sister, Tiffynnie Epps, told the Star Tribune following the plea hearings Monday.

Epps hopes that, given what the judge heard Monday, their sentences might be longer.

Star Tribune staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.