Man convicted of robbery and murder in Dakota County
Hastings, MN (KROC-AM News) – A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Burnsville man during a robbery last year.
The body of Bryant Lutgens, 38, was found in a snowdrift in Inver Grove Heights on February 1, 2021. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Investigators later determined he had left a friend’s home in Bloomington the previous night in a rental Jeep. A tracking system used by the rental company located the stolen Minneapolis Jeep and after a short chase, Gabriel Cruz, 44, was arrested. The criminal complaint said police recovered a firearm that was thrown from the vehicle during the chase and was later determined to be the same caliber as the murder weapon.
A witness in the case later told investigators that Cruz told him he had tried to rob Lutgen at gunpoint, but the two men argued and ended when the victim fell into a snowbank. The witness said that Cruz indicated that he then shot the man in the head before stealing his belongings.
A Dakota County jury found Cruz guilty of first- and second-degree murder at the trial, which ended June 29. Dakota County District Attorney Kathy Keena said it took jurors about two hours to return the guilty verdict.
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