MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A 35-year-old man accused of plowing his SUV into protesters in Uptown, killing a mother of two, has made his first appearance in court. There, he learned he will be examined to see if he’s competent for trial.
Nicholas Kraus, of St. Paul, appeared in Hennepin County District Court Thursday. The hearing was held over Zoom and Kraus appeared on video from the Hennepin County jail wearing a surgical mask and a green, sleeveless vest that appeared to be padded.READ MORE: Nicholas Kraus Charged With Murder After Plowing Into Uptown Protesters, Killing 1
Hennepin County Judge Kerry Meyer said a doctor from the courts would talk to Kraus and if he is found competent, his next hearing will be in August.
Kraus did not enter a plea. He faces a second-degree murder charge and two counts of second-degree assault in connection to the incident on June 13. He is being held on a $1 million bail.
The incident happened at the intersection of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue in Uptown, where protesters have gathered nightly to demonstrate against the police shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr.
Investigators say Kraus slammed his SUV into a parked car in the middle of the street, pushing it into a group of protesters. The car belonged to Deona Knajdek, who was using the vehicle to protect protesters. The 31-year-old activist and mother of two was hit in the crash and fatally injured. She was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman admitted the second-degree intentional murder charge against Kraus is aggressive, saying, “he was at least partially drunk, he drove up to the barricades on Lake Street, he decided that he was going to go over them and accelerated rather than break, almost like a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ driving stunt.”READ MORE: Protesters Plan March In Uptown Marking Deona Knajdek’s Birthday
“His behavior and admittance to intentionally driving towards the protestors is one important reason why we have charged him with intentional second-degree murder,” he added. “This office is shocked by this level of violence in our streets.”
Protesters apprehended Kraus that evening, whom they say tried to run from the scene. The protesters held him down until police arrived and took him into custody.
A recently unsealed warrant to collect a blood sample from the driver says Kraus told officers, while handcuffed and sitting in a squad car, that his name was “Jesus Christ” and “Tim Burton,” and that he “has been a carpenter for 2,000 years.” He also allegedly said that he wanted to “get his children to the Super Bowl,” and asked an officer if they would tell his dead mother that “he does not like her.”
Police said his pupils were small, and didn’t react or change size even when a flash light was shined into his eyes.
Records show that Kraus does not have a valid license as a result of multiple DUI offenses. He told police the vehicle he was driving was in another person’s name because he had no license and “needed to use a loophole to get the car.”
Because of his criminal history, Kraus could get a sentence of more than 30 years if he is convicted.MORE NEWS: Driver Plows Into Protesters In Uptown; Woman Killed Identified As Deona Knajdek
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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