BLAINE, Minn. (FOX 9) - This Thanksgiving marks Trinity Ottoson-Smith’s 11th birthday, but tragically the 9-year-old did not live to see it as she was shot and killed in Minneapolis last summer.
As her alleged killer heads to trial in 2023, her family gathered on Wednesday to remember what was taken from them.
"Happy birthday Trinity, happy 11th birthday, we love you, we’re here to celebrate you," Trinity’s father, Raishawn Smith said. His daughter’s spirit was felt throughout Blaine’s Sky Zone trampoline park.
Family and friends showed up to celebrate Trinity’s birthday, even as they grieved the fact that she wasn’t here to celebrate with them.
"We just want to celebrate it in a way that I think she would enjoy," Raishawn said. He describes his daughter as a patient soul who had dreams of becoming a teacher.
"Everything was purposeful with her, very truthful, very honest, and very sweet," Raishawn said.
But Trinity’s dreams were stolen in May 2021. The 9-year-old was jumping on a trampoline at her best friend’s birthday party in North Minneapolis when police say she became the unintended victim of a gang-related drive-by shooting.
Months later, D’Pree Robinson was charged with first-degree murder in Trinity’s death; his trial is scheduled for March 2023.
"I’m putting everything in my faith," Raishawn said of the upcoming trial. "I know I have nothing that I can control."
Trinity was one of three young children shot in Minneapolis in less than three weeks during the summer of 2021. But her case is the only one where an arrest has been made.
KG Wilson is still waiting for answers in the killing of his granddaughter Aniya Allen.
He attended Wednesday’s birthday party to support Trinity’s family, as they have supported him.
"I pray for his family all the time, as well as LaDavionne’s family as well," Raishawn said. "We are all very much connected in this situation."
"Tonight, both the Ladavionne Garrett Jr and the Aniya Allen cases are open and active. These investigations include partnerships with the FBI and the BCA. As always, we are asking that anybody with information immediately call CrimeStoppers. No tip is too small. Any information shared could prove extremely valuable in solving these."