ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A judge has acquitted a Minnesota man accused of fatally shooting three people and wounding two others in St. Paul last year in a case that hinged on an alibi defense.
Ramsey County Judge Kelly Olmstead on Friday found Antonio Dupree Wright not guilty on all charges, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Wright, 42, of Minneapolis, had waived a jury trial, allowing the judge to decide his fate.
“There’s insufficient evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who committed these heinous crimes,” Olmstead said.
Prosecutors had charged Wright with second-degree murder and attempted murder, alleging he was the masked man who fired a handgun at the victims at a St. Paul duplex on Sept. 4, 2022. Killed were Angelica Gonzales, 33, Cory Freeman, 42, and Maisha Spaulding, 44.
“There is no question that the victims were intentionally targeted for murder,” Olmstead said. “The sole, true issue in this case is the identity of the shooter.”
Wright’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, argued in his written closing that Wright had a “proven” alibi: He was in Chicago at the time.
“This is just a horrible case of a massacre, where the state charged the wrong guy,” Friedberg told the newspaper after the verdict.
On the day of the shooting, Wright’s aunt testified during the trial, he stopped by her Chicago home unannounced at 10 a.m. for a visit. His mother testified he went to her apartment at 10 p.m., which would have been over five hours after the shooting. She identified the man seen on surveillance video from the apartment lobby as her son.
Friedberg also argued that witnesses had testified the shooter had dreadlocks, which Wright didn’t have.
Stephen Anderson, who was shot in the head and hands, had told investigators that the gunman was named Antonio, the charges said. Anderson also picked Wright out of a photo lineup as the shooter. But Anderson backtracked at trial, saying the shooter had dreadlocks and was not Wright.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the court’s decision,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Wright still faces kidnapping and attempted murder charges from a separate incident and remains jailed on $2 million bail.