Teen sentenced in St. Paul killing that led to no-knock police raid and Amir Locke killing
Mekhi Speed, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the Jan. 10 killing of Otis Elder, 38.
ST. PAUL -- A Ramsey County judge on Monday gave a 16-year sentence to a teen convicted in the shooting death of a man during a robbery in St. Paul. Mekhi Speed is the cousin of Amir Locke, 22, whom Minneapolis police killed Feb. 2 while executing a no-knock search warrant to gather evidence in the investigation. Locke was not involved in the case.
Speed, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the Jan. 10 killing of Otis Elder, 38.
At a sentencing hearing in St. Paul, four of Elder’s family members each gave emotional victim impact statements as Speed’s mother and other relatives listened from the gallery.
Princess Evans, Elder’s fiancee, held their baby son while recounting holidays and birthdays she spent with Elder during the course of their relationship, and the ones she hoped to spend with him.
“You robbed me of all of that,” Evans said to Speed as he looked down at the defense table. “You’re a murderer.”
During his own statement, Speed apologized “for causing pain on both sides,” but then tried to distance himself from the crime to which he pleaded guilty.
“I did things I’m not proud of. This in particular, I didn’t do. I’m not going to sit here and say I murdered this man.”
“So who did? You shot him in the back,” a member of Elder’s family responded from the gallery.
In asking Judge Timothy Mulrooney to give Speed a sentence of 19 years, at the top of state sentencing guidelines, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney George Joyer noted that the defendant had convictions for armed robbery and assault with a firearm by the time he turned 17.
“Mr. Speed has chosen guns and violence at every opportunity,” Joyer said. “He and his friends operated without regard for human life, and he is an active public safety threat.”
Defense attorney Paul Sellers requested a 14-year term, noting that his client has “substantial family support,” and has matured during his time in custody.
Mulrooney split the difference, sentencing Speed to 195 months. Under Minnesota law, Speed must serve two thirds of that time, or about 11 years, in prison before he’s eligible to serve the remainder on supervised release.
Because Speed was 17 at the time of the killing, prosecutors initially charged him as a juvenile. His alleged accomplice, who’s 16 years old, is also charged with second-degree murder; authorities are asking a judge to certify the teen to be prosecuted as an adult.
As the hearing ended, Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies physically separated the Speed and Elder families as they left the courtroom.
Locke, who was not named either as a suspect or in the search warrant, had been lying on a couch in Apartment 701 of the Bolero Flats in downtown Minneapolis when police entered.
Speed had lived on the building’s 14th floor with his mother, but according to the criminal complaint, Speed’s brother lived in apartment 701 and Speed had a key fob for the unit.
On police body camera video released a day after the killing, Locke is seen with a gun in his hand, but does not fire it. Within seconds of opening the apartment door, Officer Mark Hanneman fatally shoots Locke.
In April, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said there was not sufficient evidence to charge Hanneman with a crime.
Locke’s killing led Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to prohibit police from requesting or executing no-knock search warrants in all but the most extreme circumstances.
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