Duo charged with killing pregnant woman sentenced to prison, nearly $6K in restitution

Two people who have been convicted of charges stemming from the murder of a Minneapolis woman who was seven months pregnant have learned their future.

The sentencing hearings for 28-year-old Jade Monet Rissell and 43-year-old Shannon Michael Benson were held Monday morning.

A judge sentenced Rissell to serve just over 16 years in the Shakopee prison, the amount stated in the guilty plea petition. In addition, Rissell will receive 492 days of credit for time previously served. Rissell had taken a deal earlier this month after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree unintentional murder and one count of second-degree murder of an unborn child. In exchange, the guilty plea petition stated one count of first-degree arson and one count of aiding an offender would be dismissed. Her prison sentences run concurrently.

Meanwhile, Benson will serve nearly 29 years in prison, a concurrent sentence for both murders. He and Rissell were also ordered to pay a restitution of around $6,000.

As previously reported, Rissell was charged with Benson after the body of 28-year-old Annysa Marie Zierhut was found in a burned RV in Minneapolis in Nov. 2021. Her unborn child was identified as Grace Marie Zierhut.

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A criminal complaint states a fire inspector found signs of combustible gas on a mattress and the victim’s body. A witness told police a woman was seen driving a black Tahoe with the RV attached. The woman asked the witness for a cigarette and, a short time later, the RV was on fire.

Investigators learned the RV had been sold to Benson and Rissell on Sept. 11.

The complaint states those who were close to the victim told police the victim had been reported missing in Anoka between Oct. 29 and Oct. 31. The victim’s boyfriend tried to track the victim using the app, Tile, which can track lost keys.

On Oct. 31, the app led the boyfriend to the area of Fourth Avenue South and East 25th Street in Minneapolis, where he found the RV and black Tahoe.

Investigators went back to that location and arrested Benson and Rissell.

The complaint states Rissell admitted to lighting the trailer on fire to cover up the victim’s body. She added that she’d lured the victim to the RV a week earlier and assaulted her. After leaving the victim in the RV for a few days, she said she took it to 35th and Hennepin to burn it.