A woman from St. Paul was sentenced to more than ten years in jail on Tuesday for fatally stabbing her boyfriend in the back with a kitchen knife last year after an argument.
After pleading guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the Sept. 10 shooting of Eric T. Brown, 23, of Minneapolis, on St. Paul’s East Side, Kayla J. Pope, 22, was sentenced to 128 months in Ramsey County District Court.
Katie Allen and Luis Rangel Morals, attorneys with Neighborhood Justice Center, a criminal defense group located in St. Paul, defended Pope. The counsel urged to Judge P. Paul Yang that Pope should be sentenced to supervised probation rather than jail.
Allen and Morals mentioned the documented incidences of alleged physical abuse that Pope suffered at the hands of Brown, the father of her 2-year-old boy, prior to sentence and again on Tuesday.
They also mentioned that Pope had never been arrested before and had received counseling and mental health assistance from Ramsey County Child Protection.
The stabbing was described by Morals as a “freak accident,” with the knife wound measuring less than two millimeters in length.
He stated, “Ms. Pope has scars on her body that record the torture.”
Sandy Brown, Brown’s father, spoke to the judge, stating he begged his son and Pope to “leave each other alone.” Brown’s father stated that his son “did not deserve to die.” “I despise the fact that she stole my son away from me.”
St. Paul police were summoned to the vicinity of East Seventh Street and White Bear Avenue at 9 p.m. on a report of a man being shot during an assault, according to the criminal complaint.
Brown was found with a knife wound near his left shoulder when they arrived. According to authorities, he was unconscious, not breathing, and had no pulse. Officers began doing CPR on the man. He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died shortly after.
Brown’s back stab wound had damaged an artery, forcing him to bleed to death, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to the lawsuit, Pope was interrogated by police at the site and then at the police station, where she altered her narrative many times.
According to the lawsuit, she first said Brown was attacked by a guy dressed completely in black who had approached him to sell him marijuana. The combination of traffic camera footage and a previous police summons to the residence for a domestic argument placed doubt on Pope’s narrative of a masked intruder.
According to the lawsuit, video shows Brown fleeing Pope and appearing to be injured during the incident.
Pope later revised her account, claiming Brown had threatened to take their kid and leave because he was violent. The lawsuit claims she intended to stab his rucksack, but it shifted during the fight and the knife went into his back instead.
According to the complaint, she directed officers to where she had put the steak knife into the ground after fleeing the scene.
Her attorneys’ case for probation hinged on the claimed history of abuse. She was characterized as a “battered lady” by them.
Brown hit Pope in the stomach during an altercation in April 2019, when she was 15 months pregnant, according to a police complaint accusing him with domestic violence. Brown hit her in the chest, grabbed her hair, and strangled her the same day she was released from the hospital.
For the incident, Brown was found guilty of gross misdemeanor domestic violence. Brown was sentenced to one year in prison, which was delayed, and two years of probation by Judge Yang in July 2019.
According to Pope’s attorneys, the next time she reported abuse to the police was in January 2021. Her counsel wrote to Judge Yang that she reported five more incidents of abuse or other aggressive conduct in the five months leading up to the stabbing.
On Tuesday, Allen told the judge, “I cannot help but be outraged by the many times she called out for help and did not receive the treatment she needed.”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Ramsey County prosecutor Cory Tennison said, acknowledging the prior domestic abuse. He advocated for a sentence of 150 months in jail.
“This individual was not stabbed by the criminal justice system,” he added. “It was the defendant.”