BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (FOX 9) - After objections from the victim's family, a judge signed off on Wednesday on a plea deal that could allow one of two teens accused of murdering a Brooklyn Park woman to serve just two years in a juvenile correctional facility.
Over the weekend, friends and loved ones of 23-year-old Zaria McKeever rallied against the plea deal for the two juvenile suspects in her murder. The family learned of the plea deal offering last week from new Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.
"This is a slippery slope, and it will continue to perpetuate itself over and over again like a vicious cycle," said stepfather Paul Greer said on Sunday
McKeever was killed during a home invasion last November at her Brooklyn Park apartment. Authorities say the teens, at the orders of Erick Dewaun Haynes, went into the apartment to kill McKeever's new boyfriend but ended up murdering McKeever in cold blood.
A 17-year-old boy, who was charged along with his 15-year-old brother in the murder, appeared in court on Wednesday for the plea hearing.
Normally, a case of felony murder involving a juvenile would have the Hennepin County Attorney's Office asking the court to certify them as an adult. Former Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was doing that, but he retired, and Mary Moriarity was elected.
She decided against that and instead brought forward a deal that includes two years at a juvenile correctional facility, 30 days of home monitoring upon release, and then probation until the boy is 21. There is a stayed 150-month sentence if he violates the conditions he will go to prison. On Wednesday, the judge said she could have carried out the adult certification, but that he had no prior record and was not the one who fired the gun. As far as the plea deal, she said the law is that if both parties agree, the court has to accept it.
Zaria McKeever's family is furious with Mary Moriarity's office, saying she cares more about the teens who shot Zaria McKeever rather than Zaria.
"He inserted himself, he had an opportunity to turn around to change his mind, but he willfully did this act on his own, he didn't have to do it," Paul Greer added.
"We are going to get justice for Zaria. It might not have happened today, but it will happen," added mother Maria Greer. "One way or another."
There was a lot of confusion on Wednesday as well. The charges allege that the 17-year-old admitted that the adult friend gave his younger brother the gun and that he and his brother went to the apartment to shoot the new boyfriend, who jumped out a window.
However, in court, the teen said they went there to "beat up" the new boyfriend and that he didn't know his brother had a gun. The boy also said that they were told the boyfriend was abusing a 1-year-old baby.
As for the 15-year-old brother charged in the case, it is unclear when he will appear in court for his plea hearing but it is expected to happen in the coming days.
In a statement, Mary Moriarty wrote: "Zaria's death was a devastating tragedy and I am deeply sorry to Zaria's family for their loss and continued pain. I know they are disappointed in our decision on this case. We promise to continue to seek justice for Zaria's murder as we aggressively prosecute the adult who orchestrated this horrific event."