BRAINERD, Minn. -- A survivor of a double shooting, who was left for dead after being shot in the head, testified in the trial of one of the assailants Monday that she had to wipe the blood off her cellphone with her chest to call 911 for help, telling the dispatcher she thought she was going to die.
The jury trial for Nathan Becker, 26, Brainerd, one of two defendants charged in the Jan. 4, 2015, double shooting in Brainerd, began Monday. The trial is being heard in front of Judge David Ten Eyck and a jury of 12 along with two alternates in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd.
Becker faces two felony charges of aiding and abetting Tyler Allan Cronquist, who has been charged with first-degree murder with premeditation and attempted first-degree murder with premeditation. Becker has plead not guilty to both counts.
The case revolves around a double shooting where two victims--Joseph Kroll and Chelsey Crawford, both of Brainerd--who were shot in the head at an apartment. The victims were airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where Kroll died as a result of the gunshot wound. Crawford underwent surgery for her injuries and survived.
The trial began with opening statements from Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, who is prosecuting the case for the state. Ryan told the jury that the case is like a jigsaw puzzle--every testimony or piece of evidence is a piece of the puzzle leading to a conclusion.
"What will this case show?" Ryan said. "At the end of this trial, the evidence will have been established and the only issue that will remain is the question of premeditation. ... Did they plan it?"
Ryan gave an outline of the case from the state perspective. He said Becker and Cronquist went to Crawford's apartment and shot Kroll and then walked up to Crawford and shot her in the face, thinking they were both dead, Ryan said.
Ryan said evidence will show that it was a drug deal gone bad that led to the shootings. Ryan said the victims and the defendants were drug addicts and the victims used methamphetamine. Ryan said prior to the day of the shootings, Cronquist met with the victims and Kroll said a comment that upset Cronquist. Ryan said during the trial this week there will be testimony on how Becker was assisted in looking for a handgun--a .45-caliber--and ammunition.
Ryan told the jury about how the shooting happened and how Cronquist pulled the trigger and Becker was there with him. Cronquist and Becker fled the scene after the shootings. Becker was later located in a vehicle outside the SuperAmerica Station on South Sixth Street in Brainerd and then Cronquist turned himself into police.
Ryan said the gun was not found until June of 2015.
St. Louis Park attorney Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, who represents Becker, said to the jury, "What you have heard so far is a terrible tragedy."
Eichhorn-Hicks said Cronquist is the shooter and his client, Becker, is charged with aiding and abetting Cronquist. Eichhorn-Hicks said the evidence against Cronquist is overwhelming and asked the jury not transfer the "horrendous acts" by Cronquist to Becker. He asked the jury to keep an open mind and to listen to his questions closely as each one has purpose.
Eichhorn-Hicks said Cronquist and Becker are cousins and friends and were part of the buying and selling drug culture. Eichhorn-Hicks said the prosecution will state the two cousins went into Crawford's apartment and planned to shoot the two victims
"This is the farthest from the truth," Eichhorn-Hicks said.
Eichhorn-Hicks said a witness will testify he got the gun from the reservation and told Becker the gun was hidden in the bushes near a house.
"Evidence will never show you he had the gun," Eichhorn-Hicks said, who went on to state the witness had the gun in his possession later that day of the shootings. The defense went over the shootings and said after Kroll was shot Becker was just as surprised as Crawford was.
"This case is about Tyler Cronquist and about him taking two lives," Eichhorn-Hicks said. "This trial will not show that Becker knew about the shootings in any way or that he had any possession of the gun. Tyler shot these people. ... You have to look at the facts and find (Becker) not guilty."