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Brian Kjellberg, convicted in fatal St. Paul stabbing, avoids prison time

WCCO digital headlines: Morning of June 2, 2023
WCCO digital headlines: Morning of June 2, 2023 01:31

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A St. Paul man avoided jail time after he was convicted of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing a man over a parking dispute in late 2021.

Community members have called for a rally on Friday evening in response to the diminished sentence, arguing that Brian Kjellberg, who is white, was "committing a hate crime" when he stabbed AJ Stewart, who was Black. Charging documents say that Kjellberg used a racial slur while fighting with Stewart.

In a post-Miranda interview documented in the criminal complaint, Kjellberg said he'd had issues with neighbors parking in the back of his property. He'd put up three signs that read "no trespassing," "no parking," and "private property." Around 7 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2021, he'd seen a Mercedes SUV parked on his property, so he called for someone to ticket the car. He then said he called a tow company to move the SUV.

The complaint goes on to say that Stewart came to get his car, but Kjellberg told him to stay off his property. Stewart used the "n-word," and Kjellberg used the "n-word" in his response. Stewart then punched Kjellberg four to five times. Kjellberg said he'd had a traumatic brain injury years before, and was concerned about getting another TBI. He then said, in his interview, that he took out a stainless steel pipe that was in his coat and hit Stewart in the gut.

Stewart ran down the alley. A witness said Stewart rang his doorbell - a few houses down from Kjellberg's - and said "That white man stabbed me," before collapsing on the couch, the complaint says. Stewart was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died.

Kjellberg was charged with second-degree murder the next day, and was convicted on Wednesday. Judge Leonardo Castro sentenced him to 12.5 years in prison, but stayed the sentence for 10 years, meaning Kjellberg would not have to serve prison time if he is law abiding. Kjellberg was sentenced to 364 days in the workhouse and must do 150 hours of community service each year for the second through fifth year of probation. 

The rally will be held at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul Western Police District.

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