Crime, Law and Justice

Appeals court overturns conviction in fatal shooting of Minneapolis teenager Deshaun Hill

Students wear buttons with Deshaun Hill’s photo
Students wear buttons with Deshaun Hill’s photo and the phrase “Rest in Power” on Sept. 2, 2022 during the first North High School football game after Hill was fatally shot in February of that year.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

A man convicted of killing a Minneapolis teenager will need to be re-tried, after the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a guilty verdict in the case. 

In January 2023, Cody Fohrenkam was found guilty of fatally shooting 15-year-old North High School student Deshaun Hill in 2022. Fohrenkam was sentenced to more than 38 years in prison.

In an appeal of the the jury’s verdict, Fohrenkam argued that he was unconstitutionally detained for an interrogation early in the investigation of the case. 

Person in a courthouse
Cody Fohrenkam in the courtroom at the sentencing hearing for the murder of Deshaun Hill on Feb. 28, 2023. An appeals court on Tuesday overturned Fohrenkam's conviction in the case, and ordered a new trial.
Shari L. Gross | Star Tribune

Police began looking for Fohrenkam as a suspect shortly after the shooting, and discovered that he was in custody in Carlton County for an unrelated criminal matter. Investigators arrived to question him over an hour after he was due to be released.

The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the state failed to prove that Fohrenkam’s statements were lawfully obtained. Since those statements could have affected the outcome of the original trial, the court reversed the conviction.

A spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said prosecutors are determining their next steps with the case.

“The senseless act of gun violence that took the life of Deshaun Hill devastated those who knew and loved him and everyone in the North High School community and beyond,” the spokesperson said. “We are deeply disappointed in this decision.” 

Prosecutors can appeal the court’s ruling to the state Supreme Court. If Fohrenkam does get a new trial, the case will go back to district court.

The criminal complaint said witnesses and surveillance video put Fohrenkam at the scene of the shooting on Feb. 9, 2020. The complaint didn’t detail a motive, but prosecutors had said during the trial that Fohrenkam grew increasingly angry after an unknown person punched him and stole his phone earlier that day.

Deshaun’s friends and family said that he was a role model to his siblings, classmates and teammates.

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