A man who drove his car into a crowd of protesters in the Uptown area of Minneapolis last year, killing one and injuring several others, pleaded guilty Monday to murder.
Just as his trial was set to begin, Nicholas David Kraus, 36, admitted to killing Deona Marie Erickson.
Erickson, 31, was demonstrating against the law enforcement killing of Winston Smith when Kraus, who was intoxicated, tried to jump his SUV over a vehicle that protesters had parked on Lake Street to block traffic. Kraus, driving at high speed, crashed into the barricade vehicle and pushed it into the group of protesters.
According to the criminal complaint, Kraus admitted that he did not attempt to brake. Kraus has multiple drunk driving convictions, including a felony DWI. He did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash.
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As part of a plea deal, prosecutors amended the murder charge from intentional to unintentional and dropped one of the two assault counts.
After the hearing, Erickson's friend and one-time roommate Mandy Schubring said she's glad there won't be a trial, but added that she’s unhappy with the less serious murder charge.
"It's bittersweet because it's over now and we can have some kind of closure, and I feel like that's what the family would want too, is closure. She was honestly the most kind-hearted person ever,” Schubring said. “She was very sweet, and she always had a smile on her face no matter what.”
Schubring attended the plea hearing with Courteney Ross, who’s been speaking out against police killings since the murder of her fiancé, George Floyd.
“I had planned from the beginning to be here for Deona Marie. I wanted to lift up her name. Her family has become dear to my heart,” Ross said.
Kraus faces between 17 and 21 years of prison and supervised release when he's sentenced. Judge Kerry Meyer set Kraus’ sentencing hearing for Nov.