Duluth teen who shot two clerks in the back pleads guilty
A 15-year-old boy who cold-bloodedly shot two Lincoln Park convenience store clerks in the back -- three times each -- as they attempted to run away from him more than three years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of attempted first-degre...
A 15-year-old boy who cold-bloodedly shot two Lincoln Park convenience store clerks in the back -- three times each -- as they attempted to run away from him more than three years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of attempted first-degree murder and agreed to serve a 20-year prison sentence.
Steven Albert Cooper, now 18, entered the pleas before Judge Mark Munger in St. Louis County District Court. The defendant had been scheduled to stand trial next month.
As part of the plea agreement reached by Cooper; his public defender, Rebecca Shaw; and St. Louis County prosecutor Charles Shumacher, the defendant will serve one 20-year prison sentence instead of two 20-year sentences for attempting to kill both store clerks. Charges of first-degree assault and first-degree aggravated robbery were dismissed.
Cooper will be given credit for the 1,219 days he has already spent in the Arrowhead Juvenile Center and the St. Louis County Jail. Munger scheduled sentencing for May 18.
Shumacher told the court that shooting victims Christopher Davis and Daniel Warner were informed of the plea agreement and supported it, as did Investigator Laura Marquardt of the Duluth police Violent Crimes Unit.
Cooper displayed no emotion as he admitted to his actions on Nov. 6, 2006, at the Interstate Spur
station-convenience store at 2700 W. Michigan St. He turned 15 just a week before the shootings.
The defendant shot Davis three times, and when Warner tried to escape over the service counter, he also was shot three times. Cooper then reached into the till and took money. Davis suffered a broken rib and a collapsed lung. Warner also sustained a collapsed lung. Each victim has one bullet lodged near his spine that can't be removed because surgery would cause greater damage.
When Shumacher asked Cooper if he intended to kill the clerks, the defendant said yes.
Judge Shaun Floerke ruled in May 2007 that Cooper should stand trial as an adult. Floerke determined the evidence showed that Cooper shot the clerks in a cold, calm and calculated manner with no warning.
The state public defender's office appealed Floerke's decision to try Cooper as an adult. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed Floerke's decision in 2008, but the Minnesota Supreme Court asked it to take a second look based on a recent ruling about what evidence is permissible in deciding whether a juvenile case should go to adult court.
When the Court of Appeals again dismissed the appeal, Cooper petitioned the Supreme Court for further review. The petition was denied.