ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The verdict came as a bit stunning and just shy of the one year anniversary of Sarah Wierstad’s murder.
Her family felt the case against her alleged killer Albert McIntosh was solid. But, they knew that when the jury of ten women and two men came back – several of them in tears – it wasn’t going to go their way.
“It’s all anger now because it isn’t closure,” said Christine Smith, the victim’s aunt.
After a week-long murder trial and two days of deliberation, the jury found McIntosh not guilty.
Wierstad’s parents said the uncertainty is still unbearable.
“We don't know what's in their head. We don't know what they were thinking," said Julie Zietlow, Wierstad’s mother.
"But I'll tell you one thing, we still don't have closure because we don't know who did it,” said Terry Zietlow, Wierstad's stepdad.
On Oct. 18, 2015, Wierstad was gunned down outside her St. Paul apartment. Investigators later determined she'd come home to a burglary in progress. A window was found broken, and fingerprints on the sill led them to one suspect, who led them to the rest.
Two men held her at gunpoint while a male and female accomplice waited outside. When Wierstad ran outside after them, begging for her smartphone back, she was shot twice. The others pointed the finger at McIntosh.
Isiaih Harper, who pled guilty in April to aiding the burglary, testified against him. The defense attorney believes it was inconsistent, the evidence was weak, and that it could have easily been one of the other two men.
“All I know is I hope he gets justice,” said Terry Zietlow.
Terry and Julie Zietlow are now raising Wierstad’s six-year-old daughter. They believe the evidence points to McIntosh.
“In my heart I do believe he did it,” she said. “He was just smart enough here to not get caught where he needed to be caught.”
McIntosh remains in custody because prosecutors allege that this is part of a crime spree in both Ramsey and Hennepin counties. The suspects are still awaiting charges, and the trial is expected to take place in a couple of months.