St. Paul teen to be tried as adult for Inver Grove Heights killing

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced Sept. 24 that 17-year-old Trashaun Morris, from St. Paul, was certified to stand trial as an adult for allegedly shooting to death another young man in March outside an Inver Grove Heights movie theater.

Morris was charged as an adult that same day with second-degree murder with intent to kill, second-degree murder without intent to kill while committing a felony, third-degree murder while perpetrating an eminently dangerous act and evincing a depraved mind, and first- and second-degree riot. 

The slew of charges are for the March 24 shooting that killed a 19-year-old St. Paul man, Billy Ray Robles.

Morris’ bail was set at $500,000. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 40 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint against him, on March 24 around 1:30 a.m., Inver Grove Heights police officers were dispatched to the parking lot of the AMC Theatre in the 5500 block of Bishop Avenue on a report of a fight, shots fired and people leaving the scene — it was later reported more than 40 people fled prior to the arrival of police.

When officers arrived, they were directed to a party bus where they found a man who’d been shot twice — he was later identified as Robles, who died from a gunshot wound to his chest. 

According to the complaint, the investigation determined a large number of people spent the night on a party bus that had departed earlier from the theater parking lot. Some were members of what was described as “east side” and “west side” groups. The groups argued throughout the night while on the bus. 

When the bus returned the groups exited, and witnesses said the west side group started chasing the other group. One witness described two members of the east side group turning and firing guns in the direction of the west side group. The complaint says one of the shooters was later identified as Morris, who allegedly identifies as a Payne Block Killer, a clique within the east side group.

The witness was shot in the ankle while walking towards a car. He left the scene prior to police arriving, but police were able to stop the vehicle he was in on Highway 52 near Butler Avenue. The witness was transported to Regions Hospital for treatment before being released.

Another witness, according to the complaint, said when the bus returned to the parking lot he saw a person he knew as “Tre Tre,” a nickname Morris goes by, turn and shoot toward the other group. 

 

Identifying the shooter

According to the criminal complaint, investigators looked at Facebook profiles and it was determined that “Tre Tre” was Morris. A photo lineup was complied and the second witness identified Morris as the east side group member who shot at the west side group. 

A third witness associated with the west side group was on the bus when it returned and told police someone punched him in the face. 

When the driver told everyone to get off the bus, this third witness said that along with the second witness, Robles and a couple other young men chased members of the east side group through the parking lot. As they were chasing the group, one of the east side members started shooting toward them. 

This third witness said the shooter had a white towel wrapped around the gun and fired five or six times. The witness identified Morris as the shooter as well. 

Police watched cell phone video from the incident that allegedly showed Morris in the distance facing the camera, holding what appeared to be a handgun wrapped in white cloth. A voice on the video was heard yelling “bro stop,” which witnesses said was Robles, who was standing near the first witness at the time of the video. 

The video evidence and distribution of various shell casings at the scene were consistent with witness statements that Morris was allegedly shooting a 9 mm in the direction of the first witness and a group of west siders, including Robles. 

Morris’ next court appearance is set for Oct. 18 in Hastings. 

 

—Hannah Burlingame

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