By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man convicted of killing Minneapolis Grandmother Birdell Beeks in 2016 was sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole Monday.

Joshua Ezeka admitted he was shooting in the direction of a rival gang member when one of his nine shots struck Beeks, who was sitting in her minvan with her teenage granddaughter.

birdell beeks Life In Prison For Man Who Killed North Minneapolis Grandmother

Birdell Beeks (credit: CBS)

At the sentencing Monday, Beeks’s daughters sobbed as they told the Judge how their family continues to struggle with their loss.

The baseline sentence was never in doubt. Joshua Ezeka was convicted of first degree premeditated murder which under state law carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The judge in the case ordered that photographers not shoot Ezeka’s face or videotape the family’s victim impact statement. Ezeka showed no emotion as Beeks’s daughter Sa’lesha sobbed.

“This monster put us through this trial. I would like nothing more than to see him die,” she told the court.

joshua ezeka Life In Prison For Man Who Killed North Minneapolis Grandmother

Joshua Ezeka (credit: CBS)

Ezeka was not arrested until eight months after the shooting. Family members led a tireless effort to find the killer, putting up flyers and asking for help. In August 2016, Sa’Lesha Beeks asked for witnesses to come forward.

“Come forward and speak up, it’s not snitching,” she said at the time.

After the arrest, Ezeka admitted to the shooting, saying he was aiming for a rival gang member and did not intend to shoot Beeks.

Ezeka turned down the chance to speak at the sentencing. Both in court and afterword, Sa’lesha Beeks made an appeal for an end to gang violence.

“The shooting has to end,” she said. “You are shooting for a reason you don’t know, for land that doesn’t belong to you, and you are putting innocent people in the line of your fire.”

At the sentencing, Ezeka’s defense attorney asked the judge to declare a mistrial and throw out the verdict, arguing Ezeka never intended to kill anyone. The Judge disagreed, saying the jury had considered the evidence and found him guilty.

Because Ezeka’s conviction was for first degree murder, his case will automatically be appealed.


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