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Man sentenced to 86 months for shooting school bus driver on I-35

The St. Paul man pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in August. That's a lesser crime than the one he was originally charged with.
Credit: KARE 11
Kenneth Lilly at the Hennepin County Public Safety building for a court appearance on Friday, February 8, 2019.

MINNEAPOLIS — A man who shot at a school bus and wounded the driver on Interstate 35 in February has been sentenced to just over seven years in prison.

Kenneth Lilly, 32, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in August. He was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder, but that charge was amended by prosecutors.

On Nov. 15, a Hennepin County judge sentenced Lilly to 86 months in prison, which is seven years and two months.

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According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 5 at around 2 p.m., school bus driver Thomas Benson was trying to merge onto I-35 W near Chicago Avenue during a snow storm. The bus scraped Lilly's sedan, but Benson said he was unaware.

The complaint states Lilly stopped his car, walked toward the bus and attempted to enter. Benson did not open the door for him since a child was on board. Lilly told the court that as he walked toward the bus, it hit him. He later admitted that it was moving so slowly that it was a bump.

Lilly told the court he pulled out his 9mm handgun, which he carries as a security guard and shot five times into the bus windshield, grazing Benson's head and wounding his left arm.

The child on board was not injured. 

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The Ramsey County Attorney's Office says Lilly was cleared in a previous shooting, in which he shot and killed a 16-year-old armed robbery suspect in 2015. At that time, the county attorney found that no criminal charges were "appropriate."