The mother of a man who was shot to death in an attempted carjacking in 2019 wants Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty to transfer prosecution of the case to a different county, accusing her of “unethical” conduct and a conflict of interest.
“My son, the victim of a horrific murder and carjacking, deserves better. It’s shameful that Moriarty would give a convicted murderer only a short probation sentence. Moriarty needs to immediately transfer the case,” Catherine Derus Markey said in a press release this week.
Moriarty announced a plea deal Aug. 4 for 20-year-old Husayn Braveheart, who was eight days shy of his 16th birthday in June 2019 when he and Jared Ohsman killed Markey’s 39-year-old son, Steve, during an attempted carjacking in Northeast Minneapolis.
Under the deal, Braveheart pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder. In exchange, he will serve up to one year in the workhouse and five years of probation with a suspended prison sentence of 21 years, meaning he will only serve time in prison if he violates the terms of his probation. A judge will decide whether or not to accept the deal during an Oct. 23 hearing.
Braveheart’s accomplice was 16 at the time of the murder but was certified as an adult. He pled guilty to intentional murder and is serving a 21-year sentence.
Ohsman fired the fatal shot, but Braveheart admitted to firing at the car as it drove away, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Keith Ellison this week, Markey said “both of their bullets pierced my beautiful son’s body.”
A lower court judge initially ruled that Braveheart’s case should proceed in juvenile court, but that decision was reversed on appeal by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled Braveheart should be certified as an adult.
“In juvenile court, the [Hennepin County Attorney’s Office] made extensive arguments (before Moriarty’s tenure) at numerous hearings that Braveheart was dangerous and should be certified as an adult,” Markey wrote.
“We heard many times from probation and others that Braveheart was not amenable to probation. After all, he had absconded from numerous juvenile placements. In fact, we were told that Braveheart promised a judge that he would cooperate with a placement; while on the way to that placement he kicked the window out of the social worker’s car and ran away.”
Moriarty, however, maintains that Braveheart has “shown he is responsive to the carefully-selected programming he has received,” and disrupting “that progress” would “jeopardize public safety.”
At the time of Steve Markey’s death, Mike Freeman was running the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) while Moriarty was the chief public defender. Under Freeman’s administration, Markey said she was “told they thought Braveheart was more dangerous than Ohsman and that Braveheart was the one who planned and initiated the crime spree.”
“I was assured by the HCAO repeatedly that they would pursue an adult sentence similar to the sentence given to Ohsman,” she wrote.
She believes Moriarty’s status as chief public defender at the time of the incident presents a conflict of interest.
“Ms. Moriarty has previously been removed from cases due to her conflicts related to the defendants [Brian] Flowers and [Myon] Burrell. Steve’s case is no different. She was the chief public defender who oversaw intake of this case and had a management role in how Braveheart’s case would be managed and assigned,” she said.
Markey also detailed a meeting she and her family had with Moriarty wherein she was allegedly “condescending, insulting, rude, and belittling.”
“She said prison is too dangerous for Braveheart. When we would not agree with her, she said that we were seeking vengeance. We said that we were simply asking that a reformed person take responsibility for his actions and serve an adult sentence. I told her that I am afraid of what will happen to someone else when Braveheart is released. She was condescending, insulting, rude, and belittling and did not listen to my family. She said that because she believed Braveheart’s shot into my beautiful son did not kill him, Braveheart should not serve a prison sentence,” Markey wrote.
Her family has also launched a petition calling on Attorney General Ellison to take the case from Moriarty’s office, a controversial move that Ellison has already done once during Moriarty’s tenure. Although Ellison indicated last week that he would not request to take over the case, Markey begged him to “intervene and do the right thing for my son.”
“As an attorney, I have worked in criminal justice my entire career. My family and I cooperated fully with the HCAO throughout the process. We attended every hearing and repeatedly cleared our schedules with only a day’s notice so we could support them in seeking justice for Steve. We did not speak to the press because of their concerns of how it would impact the case and did everything we could to assist them. We were polite and cooperative. We thought we had built trust and rapport with them and that they would do the right thing for our family. We can no longer trust them or the system that we have always been proud to be a part of. We believe Mary Moriarty disregarded a clear conflict of interest to adopt the same strategy she used in the case as the chief public defender when she transitioned to HCAO,” Markey concluded.
Moriarty’s office did not respond to a request for comment. She has come under intense public scrutiny since taking office for her progressive approach as well as dismissing charges in significant cases, including a rape case right after taking office and more recently agreeing to probation for a man who sexually assaulted a girl.