Plea deals for LRT assault suspects, bias crime charge quietly dropped

From the outset of the assault report becoming public, politicians and media framed the assault and robbery as being motivated by bias, despite the lack of any evidence outlined in court documents corroborating that narrative.

light rail
Kevin York (left), 23, and Keaten Morris (right), 19 (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)

Two suspects in a brutal assault and robbery at a Metro Transit LRT station that politicians and media widely implied was a bias crime against a transgender woman were recently offered plea deals that will dismiss the most serious charges and result in zero prison time.

Also, just days after the massive political and media publicity over the fact that the victim was a transgender woman, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty quietly amended the criminal complaint and dropped the bias crime enhancement originally included against one of the suspects, yet that fact went unreported by media.

Kevin Dewayne York, 23, of St. Paul, and Keaten James Morris, 19, of Minneapolis were each initially charged with felony counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and third-degree assault following the daytime Feb. 27 attack at the Lake Street LRT station that left the victim with serious injuries.

The assault charge against Morris initially included an enhancement for “felony assault motivated by bias.”

The original criminal complaints against the pair said a 911 caller advised dispatch that an adult female was laying on the ground of the lower-level north tower with “visible brain matter” on the ground.

The criminal complaints further described the victim as a transgender woman and said that arriving officers had initial concerns that the assault was due to anti-transgender bias, although no information contained in the complaints defined why they had that concern.

Additionally, subsequent media interviews with Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty never outlined any evidence that the assault and robbery were motivated by transgender bias.

Upon the defendants’ arrest shortly after the attack, York was found with the victim’s clutch purse in his possession.

Morris had also recently been added to a Metro Transit trespass list for using narcotics inside a transit station, according to the complaints. He was out of police custody on zero bail at the time of the assault in connection to several other cases and had been arrested six times since December, including the assault arrest.

From the outset of the assault report becoming public, politicians and media framed the assault and robbery as being motivated by bias, despite the lack of any evidence outlined in court documents corroborating that narrative.

Politicians including Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, state representatives including transgender legislator Leigh Finke, several Minneapolis City Council members, and activist groups weighed in on the assault with the implication that the victim was attacked due to being transgender.

Five days after the initial charges were filed against the pair, the criminal complaint against Morris was amended to remove the reference to the bias crime statute.

York and Morris both remained in custody in Hennepin County Jail until just a few days ago when each separately pled guilty under the terms of plea agreements in their respective cases.

The plea agreements detailed that in exchange for guilty pleas on third-degree assault, the charge of first-degree aggravated robbery against each defendant would be dismissed at sentencing. The agreements further detailed that each defendant would receive either a stay-of-execution or stay-of-imposition on the felony sentence and would instead be sentenced to 120 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse.

York and Morris were released from custody after pleading guilty in their cases and are expected to return for sentencing on July 19 and July 17, respectively.

Since each defendant spent about 75 days in jail following their arrests, it’s likely that they’ll each be credited with time already served in jail at sentencing and will likely not be required to further serve the 120-day workhouse sentences. Under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines that only require offenders to serve two-thirds of their sentences incarcerated, they would only be required to serve 80 days of the 120-day sentences.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

 

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.