Man gets 26 years for Itasca County murder

A 34-year-old St. Paul man has been ordered to serve 26 years in prison for a murder in Itasca County.

Nigel Randel Blackburn received credit for around a year (366 days) already served during his sentencing last Friday.

As previously reported, Itasca County deputies responded to a call about a body inside a Deer River home on June 13, 2023.

The caller told officers there was a body in her home and gave them permission to search it. According to a criminal complaint, officers saw a blood trail from the doorway to the living room, where they found the man’s body.

Investigators spoke to the victim’s mother, who said her son, a woman and Blackburn were at her house five days earlier and that she hadn’t heard from her son since.

The woman who was with Blackburn and the victim told officers that Blackburn shot and killed her friend at her home and that she then drove him to Monticello. The woman said both men had a romantic interest in her.

She added that she and Blackburn had previously been in a relationship and that she considered the other man a friend.

The night of the shooting, the three had been at the woman’s home and she had fallen asleep on the couch with the victim. Blackburn told the victim to move, and an argument ensued.

Blackburn then shot the victim several times, court documents state.

The woman and Blackburn stayed at the home for several more hours and that Blackburn discussed covering up the murder. He then used socks to wipe footprints from the scene and left in the woman’s vehicle, throwing the victim’s phone from the vehicle and ditching the socks “in a different area.”

The woman said she does not know what Blackburn did with the gun.

Court documents say that late in the evening of June 9, the same night as the shooting, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic disturbance call in Monticello, where Blackburn was reportedly having a mental health episode. The woman was also present at the apartment at the time.