Woman pleads guilty in connection to Northfield-area burglary death

A White Bear Lake woman has pleaded guilty in connection to a Northfield-area burglary death last year.

Ryann Elizabeth Smith, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of aiding and abetting first-degree assault. She was originally charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the death of 55-year-old Chris Lafontaine but agreed to plea guilty to the assault charge if the murder charge is dismissed, according to court documents.

At around 4:45 p.m. on July 2, 2021, Dakota County deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a Greenvale Township home on Foliage Avenue. The 911 caller said two men ran out of the home when a neighbor knocked on the door and the men then fled in a white Durango that was later found to be Lafontaine’s.

When deputies arrived, they found Lafontaine dead and bound up in a bathroom.

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Northfield police found the Durango a short time later and tried to stop it but it fled. Eventually, it stopped and the three occupants ran into a wooded area. Stephanie Peabody and Timothy Tuit were ultimately arrested, and Nicholas Alan Taylor was later arrested in Montana along with Smith.

Tuit and Peabody each pleaded guilty to aiding an offender in December and are set to be sentenced on May 11. Taylor pleaded guilty last month and will be sentenced on June 2. Smith is also set to be sentenced on June 2.