Six defendants in a Bloomington murder case now face first-degree murder charges in the death of a 19-year-old man.
The defendants were charged in custody with second-degree murder following the April 27 death of Corey Elder, and a Hennepin County grand jury indicted the six suspects with first-degree murder on May 25, according to the Bloomington Police Department.
Charged are Maurice Verser, 33, of Minneapolis; Briana Martinson, 20, of Prior Lake; Tarrance Murphy, 20, of Minneapolis; Noah Peterson, 20, of Lakeville; Alec Streit, 20, of Minneapolis; and Megan Cater, 19 of Lakeville.
First-degree murder charges are determined by grand juries and are typically sought when the county attorney’s office is seeking a life sentence, with or without a parole option, according to Chuck Laszewski, the media coordinator for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
A first-degree murder indictment typically involves some degree of premeditation, Laszewski said. The premeditation doesn’t have to be a long, deliberated plan of action, he explained. If the evidence shows that there was time spent planning a course of action, a case may qualify for first-degree charges, he added.
Cases are presented to a grand jury for consideration of first-degree murder when evidence and circumstances appear to meet the threshold. The suspects were charged with second-degree murder in custody following their arrest, and first-degree murder suspects may be charged in custody during their arrest with a lesser crime in order to hold them in jail while a grand jury is being convened, according to Laszewski.
The suspects in Elder’s death were charged with two counts of second-degree murder, one charge of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree assault days after the April 27 incident.
Through the Bloomington Police Department’s investigation, it was determined that the six defendants planned to burglarize Elder’s apartment and steal drugs from him, according to the criminal complaints filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Elder and an unnamed 18-year-old woman were at Hampshire Hills Apartments, 6800 W. Old Shakopee Road, on April 27. There was a knock at the door at approximately 10:35 p.m., and Elder answered the door. Two women burst into the apartment, who the female victim knew by first name. The victim identified the women as “regular customers” of Elder, who often purchased illegal drugs from him, the complaint explained.
After Cater and Martinson entered the apartment, they were followed by Murphy and Verser. The two men allegedly assaulted and pistol whipped Elder as Cater and Martinson confronted the female victim while ransacking the apartment. One of the men allegedly pointed a gun at the female victim’s head during the incident, telling her to remain still, the complaint noted.
Cater and Martinson are accused of taking Xanax, Gabapentin and cocaine from the bedroom of the apartment. Elder was dragged into the bedroom by Verser, who threw Elder on the bed next to the female victim and allegedly shot him in the neck. The suspects then fled the building while the female victim ran to a neighbor’s apartment and asked the neighbor to call 911, according to the complaint.
Peterson and Streit remained in a vehicle parked outside the building while the confrontation took place. The six suspects had met in the parking lot prior to the incident, where they discussed their plan to steal from Elder. While Cater and Martinson wanted to steal drugs, Streit wanted to take a video game system and drugs he said that Elder had stolen from him, the complaint explained.
Cater and Martinson allegedly contacted Peterson and Streit for help stealing drugs from Elder, and the two men recruited Murphy and Verser. Verser supplied the gun and made sure it was loaded, the complaint noted.
All suspects but Martinson waived their Miranda rights following their arrests and spoke of their participation in the incident, with Verser saying he shot Elder during the assault. Drugs were recovered from Cater’s vehicle, and a revolver alleged to be the murder weapon was recovered during the investigation, according to the complaint.
Elder died from a gunshot wound to the head and neck, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
Bail was set for all six suspects, who remained in custody at the Hennepin County Jail as of June 8 and have upcoming hearings either July 21 or 24.