Moriarty denounces actions by Walz, Ellison to put AG in charge of McKeever case
A day after the prosecution of a murder case was taken over by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty condemned the action by the governor and state’s top prosecutor to take the case out of her office’s hands.
Moriarty spoke Friday morning at the Hennepin County Government Center and was very critical of the actions by Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to hand the Zaria McKeever case to Ellison’s office.
Thursday night, Walz announced that he assigned Ellison to handle the case of McKeever, who was shot and killed in a Brooklyn Park apartment in November 2022.
The governor said he made the rare move of having the attorney general take over a county prosecutor’s case because Ellison made a formal request to take over the case. Ellison cited the strong opposition by both McKeever’s family and “the community at large” to Moriarty’s handling of the case as the reason he wanted to take over. He also noted that he talked with Moriarty’s office about the case and offered to take over but, “That offer was refused.”
Of the five people charged in McKeever’s death, two adults and two juveniles, ages 17 and 15, agreed to plead guilty to McKeever’s death after Moriarty offered plea deals to keep the teens in the juvenile system rather than adult court, where her predecessor had sought to have them certified. That led to the criticism Moriarty and her office received from McKeever’s family and others in the community.
However, in a strongly worded statement Thursday night, Moriarty called Ellison’s move to take over the case “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling.” She added that she understands not everyone agrees with her decisions, “but the people of this county elected me to make that final and difficult call.”
At her press conference Friday morning, Moriarty talked about the difficulty of prosecutors’ jobs and tried to explain her approach to the job.
“Every day, prosecutors in this state are permitted … and in the country … to do that job. At least they were as long as they were throwing the book at everyone. Even some who were innocent, even when they threw children in prison at alarming rates, no one intervened. Even as evidence mounted that long prison sentences did not help people change their ways when they were eventually released. It wasn’t until voters started electing prosecutors who said they would consider that mounting evidence and who said, ‘Maybe we should think about doing things differently. If what we’ve been doing hasn’t been best for public safety, maybe we should think about doing something else.’ It wasn’t until voters started electing prosecutors who promised to follow research and evidence about what works best for safety and rehabilitation that some started to intervene. Now, when we see reform prosecutors elected, other elected officials have decided that we cannot use our discretion and make these very hard decisions. That is what the attorney general and the governor have done in this case. Their behavior is undemocratic and they’ve found themselves in very poor company.”Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty
Some McKeever family members were also at the press conference, openly questioning and criticizing Moriarty. Click the video box below to watch the full press conference.
Earlier Friday morning, one of the teens charged in McKeever’s death had their case continued to April 24.
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