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Friday, January 27, 2023

Amir Locke’s Cousin Pleads Guilty in St. Paul Homicide

In a case that led to search warrants in Minneapolis and an officer fatally shooting Amir Locke, an 18-year-old pled guilty Friday in the killing of a 38-year-old man on a St. Paul street.

During a hearing on Friday, Mekhi Speed, Locke’s cousin, addressed questions from a prosecution and his counsel. However, the family of the man who died, Otis R. Elder, claims that justice is not being served.

“My brother’s life was lot more significant than killing him over some pot, and I feel like they’re not really taking it seriously,” Motika Elder, Otis Elder’s sister, said.

Speed admitted to helping and abetting unintended second-degree murder while performing an armed robbery. According to Dennis Gerhardstein, a spokesperson for the Ramsey County attorney’s office, prosecutors will dismiss an allegation of aiding and abetting deliberate murder.

Speed will be sentenced to jail based on the Minnesota sentencing guidelines grid’s recommendation, according to the agreement with the county attorney’s office, Gerhardstein said.

The grid indicates a sentence for second-degree unintentional murder ranging from 10 years and 8 months to 15 years for someone with no criminal past, but it wasn’t apparent Friday what Speed’s punishment may be because he does have a criminal history.

According to court documents, Speed was on supervised probation at the time of the killing after pleading guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in September 2020 for shooting a guy in Brooklyn Park. Speed’s criminal history “score” will be determined during a pre-sentence inquiry, and he is due to be sentenced on July 8; he is still in detention.

In a statement, Gerhardstein said, “We totally appreciate the family’s pain over the loss of their loved one and understand their plea for a longer sentence.” “Our office informed the family of the potential plea deal and carefully weighed their comments.” In all situations, we are required to evaluate other criteria before making any offer, and our judgments as a minister of justice are also founded on the law, which takes into account all of the facts and circumstances.

“At the sentence hearing, the victim’s family will have the opportunity to convey their desires directly to the court,” the statement stated. “Given Mr. Speed’s criminal history score and the maximum term authorized under the sentencing guidelines grid for second-degree unintentional murder, the prosecution will seek the maximum penalty.”

When Elder was tragically shot in January, Speed was 17 years old, and the county attorney’s office announced that he will be tried as an adult after first charging him in juvenile court. This week, the case against Speed was transferred to adult court.

Elder was fatally shot in the 500 block of North Prior Avenue in St. Paul, between University Avenue and Interstate 94, at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 10.

During a virtual court held Friday, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney George Joyer questioned Speed, who is now 18, and another individual about approaching a parked car in the vicinity. Speed said he went to the place with a weapon to buy marijuana.

Speed stated that he was standing outside the parked vehicle as his companion entered the passenger compartment. He said at the time that he didn’t recognize the man in the driver’s seat, who turned out to be Elder.

“At some point, the objective evolved from wishing to acquire marijuana from this individual to instead taking the marijuana from this person, is that correct?” Speed’s lawyer, Paul Sellers, asked Speed later in court.

“Yes,” said Speed.

“Is it fair to claim that among the persons you were with when that (decision) changed, you didn’t know?” “And part of it is because you were under the influence of booze and Percocet that day,” Sellers added.

“Yes,” said Speed.

A battle occurred. Speed admitted he was armed but stated he didn’t know whether anybody else with him was.

“Are you aware there was a gunshot?” Sellers inquired.

“Yes,” said Speed.

“However, you don’t recall ever pressing the trigger or shooting Mr. Elder, do you?” Sellers said.

“Yes,” said Speed.

“Everything occurred fast,” Speed stated when asked about the event by Joyer.

Speed remembered driving the car in which they arrived. However, CCTV indicated that after they departed, a person who looked to be holding the gun used in the shooting climbed into the passenger seat, according to Sellers.

“You helped and abetted others who were with you, both before and after the occurrence, in trying to either hide evidence or just dispose of the car, correct?” Sellers inquired.

“Yes,” said Speed.

Another juvenile has been charged with Elder’s killing, and his case is still being investigated.

Motika Elder stated that she is looking for closure. “I’d like to know who murdered my brother,” she said.

St. Paul police recognized Speed as a suspect throughout the inquiry. On February 2, officers issued search warrants at his apartment building in downtown Minneapolis.

Amir Locke, 22, was not identified in the search warrants and was sleeping on a couch in Speed’s brother’s girlfriend’s apartment when a no-knock order was executed and he was shot by a Minneapolis cop. According to the criminal complaint, Speed resided in a different apartment with his mother but had access to the other flat.

Prosecutors declined to arrest the officer, claiming that body camera evidence showed Locke waving a pistol, despite his family’s claims that the tape shows he was startled awake.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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