BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - A Hennepin County judge sentenced five people responsible for the death of a Bloomington man last year.
The judge said she was looking over a room of broken hearts: the loved ones of shot and killed Corey Elder and those of the defendants who made some bad choices. They all now face anywhere from 12 to 20 years in prison.
“What kind of void must exist in their hearts and souls to initiate and participate in the murder of somebody you once called a friend?” said Tamara Kramer, Elder’s grandmother.
One by one, Corey Elder's grandmother, mother, sister and girlfriend all fought back tears as they described what he meant to them and what has happened in their lives since his murder.
“What they took from me, tore my family apart, to this day, things are still messed up,” said Jamaycia Mitchell, Elder’s sister.
Elder was shot and killed inside his apartment in Bloomington on April 27 of last year, after a series of choices that ended in tragedy. Prosecutors allege Megan Cater and Briana Martinson wanted to get back some prescription drugs they accused Elder of stealing. They said his former roommate Alec Streit also wanted a gaming system back. Cater and Martinson joined Tarrance Murphy and Maurice Verser as they forced their way inside the apartment. Streit, along with Collin Peterson, the man who recruited Murphy to help in the robbery plot, waited in the car. Prosecutors allege Murphy and Verser assaulted elder and his girlfriend, before Verser pointed a gun at Elder and shot him.
“And even though I didn't die that day, I watched him die and held him as he took his last breaths, a huge part of me did though,” said Noe Townsend, Elder’s girlfriend. “I hope Corey is experiencing peace wherever he is.”
All five of the defendants in court Friday had previously pleaded guilty to second degree unintentional murder. Murphy also pleaded guilty to a second degree assault charge. He received the longest sentence of the five defendants, 240 months in total, including 36 months for the assault charge. Cater and Martinson received a sentence of 162 months. Peterson and Streit received a sentence of 153 months. The defendants will likely actually spend about two-thirds of the sentences in custody with rest on supervised release or parole.
All expressed regret for the incident and apologized to the family.
“I'm so sorry, this wasn't supposed to happen,” said Martinson. “Everything went so fast. Drugs took me to an evil place, somewhere I never want to be again.”
In an instant, so many lives changed. It has led to lasting trauma for some, a long stint in prison for others and a void that a man his family calls an imperfect, but loving soul once filled.
“He is missed by so many people, and we are having an extremely difficult time figuring out how to find peace,” said Bobbie Alhaqq, Elder’s mother.
Verser, who has also pleaded guilty in the case, is set to be sentenced next week.