Life in prison for 2016 murder of Minneapolis grandmother Birdell Beeks

Joshua Ezeka, the man found guilty in the 2016 murder of Minneapolis grandmother Birdell Beeks, has been formally sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Ezeka, 21, fired the bullet that struck Beeks, 58, as she sat in her minivan at a stop sign with her 16-year-old granddaughter at the intersection of 21st Avenue N. and Penn Avenue N. on May 26, 2016. Police arrested Ezeka last January. 

During the trial earlier this year, prosecutors claimed he was shooting at a rival gang member and hit Beeks instead. She was caught in the crossfire while sitting in a minivan with her granddaughter near 21st Avenue North and Penn Avenue.

A jury found Ezeka guilty of first degree attempted murder and five other counts. He was formally sentenced on Monday. 

In her victim impact statement, Sa'lesha Beeks, the victim's daughter, told the court she wished Ezeka was dead. 

"He took something so precious, so precious to a huge family and for no reason," Sa'lesha said. 

Both the Beeks family and Judge Tamara Garcia blasted the gang lifestyle that led to the loss of an innocent life. 

"No one seems to know what started this deadly rivalry," Garcia said. "Yet apparently, young men are willing to kill and die for it, for nothing." 

"Stop with the shooting," Sa'lesha said. "Put the guns away. Stop being cowards."