St. Paul man accused of killing man with single punch pleads guilty

A St. Paul man charged with murder after a single punch caused the death of another man has pleaded guilty. 

Ramsey County prosecutors charged 29-year-old Darren Duffie in September with one count of unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony for the fatal attack of 43-year-old Richard McFee on July 23, 2023. 

In court records filed Thursday, Duffie entered a straight guilty plea to the charge, meaning there was no plea agreement offered by prosecutors. 

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement responded to a call about an unconscious man near the train platform at the intersection of Fifth Street East and Minnesota Street. At the scene, authorities found McFee lying on the ground with no apparent injuries. He was transported to Regions Hospital, where medical staff determined he had a brain bleed described as "non-survivable injuries." 

Medical personnel placed McFee on life support, but he was pronounced brain dead on July 25 and removed from life support the following day. The medical examiner determined McFee suffered "a closed head injury due to assault" and his manner of death was a homicide, according to court records. 

Investigators reviewed surveillance video capturing a man, identified as Duffie, approaching McFee from behind, and striking him once on the left side of the head, court records explained.

Duffie told investigators he and McFee knew each other and claimed he attacked him because McFee had "recently struck a female friend of his" so he hit him from behind. 

At the time of the attack, Duffie was on probation for terroristic threats related to a 2021 encounter with police, according to court records. 

Duffie is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9, 2024. Under Minnesota law, Duffie faces up to 40 years behind bars.