ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A man now faces murder charges in the weekend shooting death of a 24-year-old mother in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood.
Alvin Bell, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Sarah Wierstad, court documents filed in Ramsey County show.
Wierstad was shot around 8 p.m. Sunday near her home at the intersection of Beaumont and Bedford streets, officials say. An autopsy showed she suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the heart.
According to a criminal complaint, witnesses told authorities that multiple gunshots were heard in the street and two vehicles sped off from the area immediately after the shooting.
When checking on Wierstad’s young daughter shortly after, police noticed that purses and shoe boxes appeared to be out of place in Wierstad’s otherwise tidy apartment.
Later, after police obtained a search warrant, investigators found a cut in the window screen near Wierstad’s kitchen.
Officers also took fingerprints from her window, and when running the prints against those in the Midwest Automated Fingerprint Identification Network, they found the prints matched several belonging to Bell.
Investigators also found that surveillance video captured the two vehicles seen leaving Beaumont and Bedford after the shooting.
Those cars — a Chrevolet Suburban and a Toyota 4Runner – went to Minneapolis gas station about a half hour after the shooting, and surveillance video showed Bell trying to pay for gas with Wierstad’s credit card.
Two days later, police arrested Bell, as well as a woman named Michelle Koester.
Koester told authorities that she and Bell were in Wierstad’s neighborhood at the time of the shooting. While she said she saw Bell in the street that night, she denied seeing Bell with a gun, the complaint states.
Koester has yet to be charged in connection to the case.
If convicted of the second-degree murder charge, Bell faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Officials say Bell has two prior violent crime convictions: one for aggravated robbery and another for attempted aggravated robbery involving a firearm.