A Minnesota court has made the unusual decision to reject a negotiated plea deal that would have allowed a man to avoid prison time for his role in a deadly attempted carjacking in Minneapolis.
Hennepin County District Judge Michael Burns stated on Monday that he did not feel Husayn Braveheart, 20, was “particularly amenable to probation” or that he played a “significantly lesser role” in the murder, as prosecutors and his public defender claimed. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Burns has ordered a trial unless another arrangement is found before a Dec. 14 hearing.
Minnesota judges seldom reject plea bargains, but they did so twice this month in Hennepin County.
Authorities say Braveheart was 15 when he and co-defendant Jered Ohsman, then 17, pulled semiautomatic pistols on Steven Markey, a 39-year-old paralegal from Plymouth, Minnesota, in June 2019. Ohsman told police that after seeing Markey reach for something, he ordered him out of the truck and shot him. According to court filings, Braveheart fired at the vehicle as Markey drove away before dying.
After crashing a stolen SUV, the youths were apprehended.
Markey’s mother, attorney Catherine Markey, said she was “hopeful” after Burns’ decision.
“I’m very proud of Judge Burns,” she said. “I’m thankful to have people like him on the bench in Hennepin County.”
Prior to the hearing, Markey’s family and supporters had written to Burns, urging him to reject the deal. The family conducted news conferences, attended rallies near the courthouse and distributed an online petition, calling the plea agreement an unacceptable decision.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, whose office negotiated the rejected settlement, campaigned on a different approach to juvenile offenders, with a focus on rehabilitation.
Braveheart apologised to the Markey family in court on Monday.
“I take full responsibility for my actions that day and I have no one to blame but myself in this situation,” he said. “I can’t go back. I wish I could. But the only way I see is forward.”
In 2020, Ohsman pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Braveheart’s presumed guideline similarly asked for a 22-year sentence.
Prosecutors and Braveheart’s public defenders claimed that while Ohsman admitted to firing the fatal shot, Braveheart played a minor role in the murder. However, according to Burns, Braveheart shot at Markey as he drove away, endangering the public.