Man convicted in violent 2008 double-murder resentenced amid state law change

Man convicted in violent 2008 double-murder resentenced amid state law change

Man convicted in violent 2008 double-murder resentenced amid state law change

A man convicted of brutally murdering a mother and her 10-year-old child in 2008 was resentenced on Friday after a 2023 law change meant he could be eligible for parole much sooner than initially thought.

Brian Flowers, 32, was resentenced in Ramsey County Court to two concurrent (at the same time) life sentences with the possibility of parole. He was initially sentenced to two consecutive (one after another) life sentences.

Flowers agreed to dismiss his motion for a new trial and stop his post-conviction litigation as a result of the resentencing. The new sentence means Flowers could be considered for parole four years earlier than he would have with the initial sentence.

The murders

The resentencing stems from a 2009 murder conviction in which a jury found Flowers guilty of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder.

Flowers was indicted and charged with murder after Katricia Daniels and her 10-year-old son, Robert Shepard, were found brutally murdered in a Minneapolis duplex on 1st Avenue South on June 11, 2008.

Flowers, who was 16 at the time of the murder, and his co-defendant — 17-year-old Stafon Thompson — were arrested just days after the murder.

A 16-month-old infant was also in the residence during the crime but was uninjured. A neighbor at the scene just after the murders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the girl was found alone, with blood on her clothing.

Evidence from the scene showed the victims were brutally killed, with each suffering multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma.

Investigators working the case spoke to a woman who had received a call from Daniels on the night of the murder, who said she had dropped off her boyfriend, Thompson, and Flowers near Daniels’ home around 10 p.m. on the night of the murders.

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS photographer captured the scene the day after the murder in 2008

During subsequent interviews with police, Flowers told law enforcement that Thompson had killed Daniels because he wanted her car and killed Shepard so there were no witnesses.

Flowers said Thompson first hit Daniels with a golf club before stabbing her. He added that Thompson hit Shepard with a television as he lay in bed, which knocked him out, before stabbing him.

Flowers told police he asked Thompson to stop and tried to grab him, but Thompson pushed him off.

Clothing found at the scene as well as footprints and testimony from witnesses led to Flowers’s conviction in 2009.

Law change

Due to a federal and state law change regarding parole for people under 18 serving life sentences, Flowers was resentenced in 2017 to concurrent sentences, which made him eligible for parole in 2038. At that time, a representative with the Hennepin County District Court said, “What happened in the 3600 block of 1st Avenue South on June 12, 2008, was horrific. But it appears Flowers played a lesser role than his codefendant; even the Minnesota Supreme Court found it to be a close case with regard to Flowers.”

The State then appealed Hennepin County’s decision, and in 2018, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the concurrent sentences and told the court to reevaluate based on a previously set precedent.

In 2023, Minnesota law changed once again to allow those convicted as a juvenile serving two consecutive life sentences to be eligible for parole after 20 years, while those serving one or more concurrent life sentences are eligible for parole after 15 years.

In court documents, the state recognized that the surviving family members do not support concurrent sentences for Flowers, saying, “They do not wish to give further input or attend a resentencing hearing. They are aware the matter will be handled by stipulation and do not object to proceeding without a hearing.”

In light of the judge’s ruling, Flowers is now eligible for parole, although the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office says it intends to oppose parole for Flowers until at least 2028. A spokesperson added that the evidence leads prosecutors to believe Thompson is considerably more culpable than Flowers in the murders.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office says it intends to oppose concurrent sentences for Thompson.

After a lot of work and thorough consideration of all the legal and factual issues involved in this case, we concluded that Mr. Flowers should receive a concurrent sentence for his role in the murders of Katricia Daniels and Robert Shepard. Because we were not involved with the protracted and contentious litigation that this case generated for over eleven years, we could independently evaluate Mr. Flowers’ culpability and, in hindsight, take into consideration past judicial rulings and the significant changes to Federal and State laws that occurred during this lengthy litigation. The law is an expression of our community’s values and when the law changes to it is important guidance on how prosecutors should exercise our decision making. From our perspective, it is significant that, on appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court determined in 2010 that Mr. Flowers’ role in this case was far less than his co-defendant. We came to the same conclusion after reviewing this case for the past ten months and therefore resolved this case in a manner that reflected his lesser culpability, achieved an end to the litigation, and recognized the reality that the distinction between consecutive and concurrent sentences for Mr. Flowers was small due to retroactive changes in the law made by the Minnesota Legislature in 2023.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi

Counsel for Flowers issued the following statement on Friday morning:

“It is impossible to overstate the gravity of the trauma, grief, and loss caused by the murders of Katricia Daniels and Robert Shephard.  Brian takes full responsibility for and deeply regrets his role in the events of that night.

Brian was 16 years old at the time of the murders. He is grateful that both the State and the Court have recognized his youth and — as did the Minnesota Supreme Court — his lesser culpability in these events.

Brian has now been incarcerated for almost 16 years, and he is not the same person he was in 2008.  He knows that there is nothing he can say or do to change what happened, but Brian will spend the rest of his life trying to make amends. He is so deeply sorry.”

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office completed the prosecution of this case after the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office realized it had a potential conflict of interest in April of 2023.