A Brooklyn Center man pleaded guilty to killing a woman and wounding a man outside a downtown Minneapolis bar and was immediately sentenced to more than 28 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.
Sherman Alexander, 31, pleaded guilty to intentional second-degree murder of 28-year-old Jenna Rae Heilman of Minneapolis and to second-degree assault in the wounding of another innocent bystander on Sept. 5. Hennepin County District Court Judge Juan Hoyos sentenced Alexander to 60 months in prison for the aggravated assault and to 282 months for the murder, running them consecutively for a total of 342 months.
“All you had to do was walk away,” Judge Hoyos said before pronouncing the sentence. “It was a bar fight. Instead, you got a gun and fired 10 times. Now you will spend much of your life in prison. It was senseless and no one in this room will understand it.”
In court, Alexander admitted that he was at the Pourhouse Bar, 509 Hennepin Ave. that night with friends, when one of his acquaintances tried to steal a bottle of liquor from the table of another group. A brawl broke out between that group and Alexander’s group and someone assaulted Alexander with a bottle or a glass before bouncers broke up the fight and escorted all the combatants out of the bar.
However, Alexander was parked nearby and when he saw someone from the group he fought with, he went to his car and retrieved a handgun. Alexander admitted that he knew that gun was capable of killing someone and “I fired it.”
He fired 10 shots and Alexander acknowledged that firing the shots was an intentional action with the intent of killing that man. However, he missed his target and instead, struck two innocent bystanders, a man and Heilman, he admitted.
Two of Heilman’s aunts and her mother gave victim impact statements to the court. Her mother, Deborah Heilman, told the court that Jenna was her only child and had celebrated her Aug.26 birthday in Hawaii. She had only been home a few days and she was belatedly celebrating her birthday with friends that night.
The bullet hit Heilman in her left hip and ricocheted in her body, doing extensive damage to organs and her femoral artery. It left her in excruciating pain and she endured 13 surgeries, her mother said.
“Jenna was a fighter,” her mother said. “On October 29, she lost her fight. She lived at home with me and she was a happy person. She told me she loved me every day.”
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