MINNEAPOLIS — A jury found Cody Fohrenkam guilty of second-degree murder Thursday in the 2022 death of Minneapolis north teen, Deshaun Hill, Jr.
The jury reached its verdict after deliberating for only about one hour.
"All those pieces put together the story of who did, and it was Cody Fohrenkam," a juror said.
The juror told us they were shown a series of surveillance videos that captured the events. He said you could see "someone pacing around who had a bad day and decided to take it out on someone else."
"We got the justice we needed," said Hill's father, Deshaun Hill, Sr., outside the courthouse after the verdict was read.
Hill's mother, Tuesday Sheppard, was also outside the courthouse following the verdict. She joined in thanking the prosecution team and the community for helping bring Fohrenkam to justice.
"Justice for D. Hill," she said. "Protect our kids."
“This senseless act of gun violence devastated those who knew and loved Deshaun, and everyone in the North High School community and beyond,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty. “With this verdict, Mr. Fohrenkam is legally accountable for taking Deshaun’s life.”
Then, speaking to Hill’s family, she added, “Nothing will bring Deshaun back, but I hope you can find some level of comfort in this verdict.”
Fohrenkam's sentencing date is scheduled for Feb. 28.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday morning after three days of witness testimony. The defendant's legal team announced in court that Fohrenkam would not testify during his trial on charges of second-degree murder for the shooting death of prominent North High student-athlete Deshaun Hill, Jr.
Fohrenkam fatally shot Hill during a chance encounter Feb. 9, 2022. Hill, the quarterback of the North Polars football team, was walking down a sidewalk on Glenwood Avenue when the two men accidentally brushed shoulders.
Investigators and at least one witness said Fohrenkam then pulled a handgun and fired three or four shots at Hill, at least one striking him in the head. The then-15-year-old later died at a hospital.
The prosecution called a short list of witnesses, including Hill's mother, various Minneapolis police officers and a woman who saw what happened and ran to Hill's aid. They relied heavily on surveillance video that did not capture the moment of the shooting but reflected the aftermath, when a man, who prosecutors identified as Fohrenkam, fled the scene.
In their opening statements, Fohrenkam's defense team made clear their position that the state lacked evidence to prove he was the killer. Attorneys pointed to the fact that the murder weapon has not been found, and emphasized inconsistencies in the description of the suspect.
KARE 11's Deevon Rahming says prosecutors stuck to the script in a closing argument that lasted about 30 minutes. In it, assistant Hennepin County Attorney Dan Allard revisited all of the evidence presented over the week-long trial, including surveillance photos from outside Wally’s Food, where Fohrenkam was knocked to the ground and robbed of his phone hours before Hill was shot. The defendant allegedly shot the teen while searching for the person responsible.
Allard zeroed in on the red pants the state says were seen in Fohrenkam's backpack inside Wally’s Food and maintains the defendant changed into them after he was robbed and knocked to the ground in wet snow.
Prosecutors showed the jury panel images from surveillance cameras that they say capture Fohrenkam in the red pants with the same backpack and shoes as the man who shot Deshaun Hill was wearing. Allard told jurors they must find that Fohrenkam shot Hill three times with intent in order to find him guilty of second-degree murder.
Defense attorney Lisa Skrzeczkoski argued that there was no proof Fohrenkam was the man seen in the red pants and that there was no evidence he changed his clothes. She said several witnesses gave conflicting descriptions of the suspect and pointed to mishandling of reports by Minneapolis police throughout the case as a reason to find Fohrenkam not guilty.
"All those pieces put together, the story of who did and it was Cody Fohrenkam," one of the jurors told KARE 11.
This is a developing story. KARE 11 will provide more details as new information becomes available.
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