Charges filed in connection to death of teen found in Savage Target parking lot

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Charges were filed Thursday in connection to the death of a 16-year-old who was found semi-conscious and bleeding in the parking lot of a Savage Target on Friday night.

TanyaMarie Esthell Miller, 43, is charged with two counts of aiding an offender, and Taran Cortez Miller, 44, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Their 16-year-old son was also arrested in connection to the incident.

Savage Police responded to the parking lot of Target in Savage at about 7:30 p.m. Friday after receiving reports of a teen bleeding from his head. The victim was transported to a hospital, where doctors determined the teen had suffered a gunshot wound to his head. He died Saturday from his injuries and has since been identified as 16-year-old  Samuel Alvin Keezer.

According to criminal complaints, a medical examiner determined the bullet hit the victim's skull above his right ear and exited above his left eyebrow. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Two women told officers they were in the parking lot when they heard a "pop." The complaint states the women didn't know where the noise came from but drove around the parking lot before they finally saw Keezer lying on the ground. They then went back into the store to get help.

Police reviewed surveillance video from the area and saw a vehicle drive into the parking lot and park where Keezer was later found. A second vehicle then parked near it, and Keezer got out of the first vehicle and into the second vehicle, the first vehicle then drove away. The complaint states Keezer falls or is pushed out of the second vehicle and onto the ground in the parking lot a short time later, and the second vehicle drives away.

Teen dies from shooting in Target parking lot; 3 in custody

The complaint states that the investigation revealed Keezer had been communicating with another juvenile on Snapchat, and the two planned to meet up so Keezer could buy marijuana. Officers learned they met up in the Target parking lot. The vehicle Keezer originally arrived in had three or four other people inside while the other vehicle Keezer got into had at least two other people inside.

Police spoke to one of the juveniles who had been with Keezer that night who said the plan was for Keezer to meet up with another juvenile to buy marijuana, but Keezer was then going to take the marijuana from the juvenile and run away to meet them in a nearby parking lot their vehicle had driven to. However, when Keezer never came back to their spot, the juvenile told police they went back to the Target parking lot, saw Keezer bleeding on the ground and then drove away according to the complaint.

The complaint states officers later executed search warrants for the family home and garages of the juvenile Keezer was supposed to meet with to buy the marijuana. The juvenile told police he used Snapchat to connect with people and sell marijuana. When Keezer contacted him stating he wanted to buy marijuana, the juvenile asked his father, Taran Miller, and they bought marijuana in St. Paul and then went to sell it to Keezer.

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The juvenile said Keezer gave them different locations to meet, and when he didn't show up the juvenile and his father were going to go home but Keezer convinced them to meet at Target. However, before going to Target, Miller went inside his home and got his gun.

When Keezer met them in the Target parking lot and got in their vehicle, the juvenile said Keezer left the door open slightly and they kept telling him to close the door. As Keezer was smelling the marijuana, the juvenile told police Miller shot the Keezer in the head, pushed him out of the vehicle and then told the juvenile to drive away.

The complaint states Miller then called the juvenile's mother, TanyaMarie Miller, who went to their neighbor's house to get their garage key. They then hid the vehicle in neighbor's garage so it wouldn't be found, the complaint states. Officers arrested the juvenile's parents on Tuesday.

Taran Miller later told police he had done other drug deals with his son and kept his .380 handgun with him for protection. He said he sat in the back passenger seat of the vehicle because he didn't want Keezer behind him. The complaint states Taran Miller also admitted he thought Keezer was going to take the marijuana and run without paying, so he shot him in the head. After arriving back home, he told police he got rid of the bullet casing in his vehicle and gave the handgun to his sister-in-law in Mankato.

TanyaMarie Miller added that she was aware her husband and son would sell marijuana, the complaint states.

All three were set to appear in court Thursday for bail hearings. Taran Miller's bail was set at $2 million while TanyaMarie Miller's bail was set at $1 million. Taran Miller's first court appearance is set for Friday, March 13, while TanyaMarie Miller's first appearance is set for Friday, March 6. 

Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar said, "it's really just an awful situation and it's terrible, now we have this juvenile who however you want to feel about marijuana sale certainly no reason to be dead, still no reason to be killed."

Keezer's family commented on the allegations:

"Sam is not here to speak his truth and one moment does not define him."