St. Paul woman pleads guilty to murder charge filed following shooting of 17-year-old boy

A St. Paul woman will be sentenced this spring after pleading guilty to a murder charge filed after a shooting that left a 17-year-old Carver County boy dead last year.

According to court records, 19-year-old Vanessa Sanchez Lopez pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in the death of Manuel Ernesto Bernal Jurado on Jan. 10 as part of a deal made with prosecutors.

Documents show in exchange, prosecutors will dismiss the other second-degree murder charge filed in the case. If approved by a judge, Lopez could face a 20-year sentence, according to the plea.

Lopez previously had a jury trial scheduled to begin on Feb. 6. She will now be sentenced on March 29.

A criminal complaint says officers with the Eden Prairie Police Department saw a speeding vehicle that wouldn’t stop for law enforcement, and a chase continued into Edina.

Police say they located the victim inside the vehicle’s front passenger seat with a gunshot wound to the head. Police learned that Lopez was in the driver’s seat at the time of the shooting, the complaint notes.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Jurado was brought to Fairview Southdale Hospital on Feb. 2, 2023.

Court records say the victim was Lopez’s boyfriend, and on the evening of Feb. 1, they picked up two others and went to a movie. The complaint notes the victim and defendant “had been arguing throughout the night.”

After the movie, the four traveled to Chanhassen to the home of another friend. A firearm belonging to the victim was in the vehicle, and while driving, both the victim and Lopez shot the gun out the window, the complaint alleges.

When they arrived at the residence in Chanhassen, all occupants exited the vehicle but got back in due to the cold weather that night. Then, Lopez allegedly pointed the gun at Jurado and shot him in the head at close range.

One witness claims Lopez didn’t want to drive Jurado to the hospital because she didn’t want to go to prison.

According to the complaint, investigators found camera audio from a neighboring house where the shooting occurred, in which shortly after the shooting, you can hear a male voice say, “you shot him in the face” twice.