Teen charged for death of Brooklyn Park woman pleads guilty

Teen charged for death of Brooklyn Park woman pleads guilty

Teen charged for death of Brooklyn Park woman pleads guilty

A 17-year-old charged with murder in the deadly shooting of a 23-year-old woman at a Brooklyn Park apartment pleaded guilty on Friday, just days after he was certified as an adult in the case.

Zaria McKeever was killed in November 2022, and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has charged Foday Kevin Kamara with two counts of second-degree murder for his role in McKeever’s death.

Since he was certified as an adult earlier this week, Kamara faced up to 40 years in prison but, according to his plea deal, he’s expected to receive a sentence of around 11 years (130 months) in exchange for his testimony against others in the case next month. He’ll be formally sentenced in May.

As part of the deal, he’s also expected to spend time at a juvenile center in Red Wing until he turns 18, at which time he’d move to a state prison.

This case was first in the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, but McKeever’s family said they were upset that Kamara — who was 15 years old at the time of the shooting — had been offered a two-year plea deal by her office in a juvenile center that focused on rehabilitation.

After that, Gov. Tim Walz stepped in, handing the case over to Attorney General Keith Ellison.

“The public understands that the justice system will work its way out, but they also can’t understand why someone would be given a two-year, basically two-year time in a juvenile facility,” said Walz.

Moriarty’s office on Friday highlighted that the new plea deal is still a much lighter sentence than what a murder charge typically leads to and added that it also reduces Kamara’s access to treatment.

“Our goal in the prosecution of those responsible for Zaria McKeever’s murder was to aggressively seek a conviction and lengthy prison sentence for the adult who orchestrated this horrific crime of domestic violence. At the same time, we sought to hold the two teenagers involved accountable in a way that protected the public and accounted for their age, trauma history, and role in the offense” Moriarty said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, today’s plea deal fails to allow Mr. Kamara to complete the treatment that experts said he needed, while allowing him to be released from prison when he is just 23 years old.”

Ellison also released a statement and said his office is readying for the trial of Kamara’s co-defendants.

“Zaria McKeever was a loving mother, wonderful daughter, awesome sister, and loyal friend. Her murder continues to be both shocking and heartbreaking for her family and all who loved her. My office is dedicated to holding accountable all those responsible for it,” Ellison said Friday. “One of the young defendants has now taken responsibility for his role in Zaria’s murder, and he is being held accountable. I thank Zaria McKeever’s family, who continues to demonstrate grace under the most difficult circumstances, and I thank prosecutors and paraprofessionals in my office, who have worked hard on this case, especially Leah Erickson and Erin Eldridge, who secured this plea. I also thank all the law enforcement officers who investigated this tragic case. Meanwhile, we continue to prepare for the trial of the remaining defendants.”

Kamara isn’t the only person charged in the case — McKeever’s ex-boyfriend, Erick Haynes, was also indicted.

Prosecutors allege Haynes gave two teens a gun and told them to shoot McKeever’s new boyfriend.

Kamara confirmed that during Friday’s hearing, saying the gun was a 9 mm given to him by Haynes. He also described what happened that night.

“Zaria was coming into the hallway, we were trying to get around her,” Kamara said in court.

“She wasn’t moving out of my way to get to the back of the house,” he added, saying that’s when he shot four times through a wall to try to get her to move. When she started approaching with a knife, he shot her.

McKeever’s family declined to comment on the matter outside the courtroom on Friday.