Defense asks judge for lighter sentence for teen guilty in St. Paul father's slaying

Defense attorneys are asking for the judge to take it easy on a teen who pleaded guilty to murder in the death of a St. Paul father who was gunned down outside his home as he tried to stop car thieves.

In August, Kle Swee admitted to his role in the killing of Michael Brasel, as he waived his rights to an adult certification hearing. Swee, who was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, was initially charged as a juvenile.

Police said Swee and another teen, Ta Mla, were out stealing items from vehicles in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in May when they were confronted by Michael Brasel as they were stealing from a vehicle in front of Brasel's home. Next, shots were fired, and the teens sped off in a black sports car.

Prosecutors said they will seek the maximum sentence for Swee – about 25 years behind bars. But, in court documents, the defense attorneys are asking the judge for a downward departure from sentencing guidelines – which means a lighter sentence than what the guidelines call for in a case like this.

Defense attorneys are asking for Swee to serve 15 years behind bars for the case. They argue that he was acting in self-defense – to protect Mla as he wrestled with Brasel.

In the motion for the downward departure, Swee's defense attorneys for Swee claim he "panicked" and fired shots at Brasel.

"Kle reasonably believed that Ta was going to be harmed," the motion reads. "[Brasel], who grabbed Ta from behind, was much larger than Ta. Kle admits he panicked when he shot [Brasel] to defend Ta."

Attorneys also blame Ta, who owns the weapon, for bringing it in the first place.

Swee is set to be sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 9 a.m.