Guilty verdict in murder of Minneapolis grandmother Birdell Beeks

A jury has found Joshua Ezeka guilty on all counts in the 2016 murder of Minneapolis grandmother Birdell Beeks, sentencing the 21-year-old to life in prison without parole.

Joshua Ezeka fired the bullet that struck 58-year-old Birdell Beeks as she sat in her minivan at a Stop sign in north Minneapolis on May 26, 2016.

The case went to the jury late Tuesday afternoon after both sides delivered their closing arguments. 

In March, a grand jury charged Ezeka with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he was shooting at a rival gang member and hit Beeks instead. The 58-year-old grandmother was caught in the crossfire while sitting in a minivan with her granddaughter near 21st Avenue North and Penn Avenue.

“The verdict brings justice to the family and, just maybe, a gang member will think twice before shooting his gun," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "But there is no joy for us. A wonderful woman is still dead and a very young man will never be anything but a prisoner identification number.”

The defense said Ezeka never intended to kill anyone, and that he was only trying to scare the gang member away. Ezeka did not testify and the defense called no witnesses in the case. 

During the more than two-week long trial, jurors heard an audio recording in which Ezeka admitted to firing the shot, killing Beeks.

Ezeka was found guilty of first degree attempted murder and five other counts.