MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Hennepin County jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday against Marcus Hallmark in the March 2017 shooting of 32-year-old Thomas Russ at a park-and-ride in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Hallmark, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree murder for shooting Russ in the head twice as he changed a flat tire.
The jury actually signed its verdict forms on Friday, but came back to court to read the verdict Tuesday. Hallmark will get a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced next week.
"It’s relief and closure to know that he can’t get out and do this to anyone else," said Julie Russ, Thomas' mother.
"We are able to start moving forward," said his sister, Carla Ziembo. "I feel like this last year we’ve been sitting back not sure where to go with this. It’s been very hard to lose one of your siblings.”
According to court documents, the gun recovered from Hallmark had been stolen from a police officer’s home in Farmington just one day earlier. According to a search warrant filed in connection with the case, Marcus Hallmark broke into the police officer’s home and stole the gun, police badges and ID cards.
According to the criminal complaint, Russ, Hallmark and two women were hanging out in a home in Columbia Heights. One woman lent her car to Hallmark, but he abandoned it at the park-and-ride ramp on Wayzata Boulevard in Minnetonka after getting a flat tire.
The women and Russ drove to the ramp so that Russ could change the tire. The two women sat in the car while Hallmark and Russ worked on the tire. Both women reported hearing a loud bang, looked over and saw Russ on the ground. They then saw Hallmark bend over and fire another shot before running away.
According to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Russ died of two gunshot wounds to the head.