Girlfriend charged with second-degree murder in St. Paul stabbing |

Girlfriend charged with second-degree murder in St. Paul stabbing

Kayla Pope. Photo: Ramsey County Jail. Kayla Pope.

Tommy Wiita
Updated: September 13, 2021 01:49 PM
Created: September 13, 2021 10:12 AM

Charges have been filed in the case of a stabbing death that left a 23-year-old Minneapolis man dead Friday night

The St. Paul Police Department identified the man as Eric T. Brown. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner stated that Brown had a stab wound to his back that perforated a distal pulmonary artery. The official cause of death has been ruled as exsanguination due to a stab wound to the back. 

On Saturday, Kayla Janea Pope, 22, of St. Paul, was arrested by officers and charged with second-degree murder Monday morning. 

According to the criminal complaint, shortly before 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, officers were sent to the area of Seventh Street East and White Bear Avenue in St. Paul on a report of an aggravated assault. Police later found Brown with a stab wound near his left shoulder blade. Brown was unconscious, was not breathing, and had no pulse at the time authorities located him. He later died at a nearby hospital at 10:52 p.m.

Police witnessed Pope, who was identified as Brown's girlfriend, run from the area. According to the complaint, it appeared that Pope tried hiding something by a step or in shrubbery after she fled. When she was returned to the scene by authorities, she had a visible bloodstain on her shirt.

Pope claimed to officers that Brown had been stabbed by an unknown male who wore all black clothing and a mask. She alleged the man fled north on White Bear Avenue, while she and Brown ran east on Seventh Street across White Bear Avenue. She noted to police that Brown collapsed while running. When Pope was in the police car, she asked officers, "Did I do anything?" and "He told you I didn't do anything, right?" repeatedly, according to court documents.

Pope then clarified that the incident was a drug deal gone wrong. She stated that she was with Brown while he attempted to buy drugs from a man he had contacted on Facebook. They left their one-year-old child at home during the incident.

However, after further investigation, police determined that Pope's story did not line up. After interviewing some witnesses in the area, they saw Pope chasing Brown into traffic across White Bear Avenue. The witnesses noted Brown was yelling for help, falling in the middle of the street. He then got up but fell again on the sidewalk, where police eventually located him.

Police had visited the couple's apartment earlier on a domestic call. Pope denied they fought initially. She was booked into jail on child endangerment charges since authorities determined the baby was "living in squalor" when they forced entry into the apartment to investigate further. 

A nearby business recorded the incident that played out. According to surveillance cameras, Brown was seen sprinting into traffic carrying a bag of food, later identified as leftovers from a takeout restaurant. Pope was seen sprinting after Brown, and at some point, Brown was seen running hunched over as if he was injured. He eventually collapsed. 

Pope continued to deny any involvement in Brown's death. However, she told police she knew where the murder weapon was located. Law enforcement later recovered a steak knife, the complaint states. Pope later admitted to police that she and Brown were in an abusive relationship. She noted a couple instances where Brown made her feel threatened and went on to say she was tired of being assaulted. She said she feared Brown was going to take or hurt their child in the future.

According to the complaint, Pope admitted she grabbed a steak knife and chased after Brown, who had a backpack on. She claimed she tried to stab the backpack, but Brown turned and caused the knife to go directly into his back. Pope further denied that she tried to stab Brown or wanted him to die.

This marked the 23rd homicide in St. Paul this year.

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