Guilty pleas in two murder cases; one defendant gets life without parole

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two men pleaded guilty to separate murders, and one of them pleaded just 40 days after the slaying, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Quanan Lee Machacek, 26, of Minneapolis pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday and was immediately sentenced to life without parole for a fatal stabbing he committed on Sept. 10.

Joshua Ford, 17, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in a fatal shooting incident that began on a Metro Transit bus on July 24. He will be sentenced Oct. 27.

Machacek’s case was unusual because of the speed with which it was resolved and the fact that he was willing to plead guilty to first-degree murder instead of trying to strike a deal to plead to a slightly lesser murder charge so he could have some hope of being released later in life.

In his hearing Tuesday, Machacek said little, but admitted he was looking for someone to kill Sept. 10. According to the original criminal complaint, 25-year-old Cody Rasche was walking with his girlfriend around 9:30 p.m. at Little Earth Community when Machacek challenged him to come outside the fence and fight. At first, the two young men just yelled at each other, but eventually Rasche walked around the fence and the two started fighting. During the fight, Machacek pulled out a knife and stabbed Rasche several times in the neck.

He was charged by complaint two days later and a Hennepin County Grand Jury indicted him on first-degree murder on Oct. 2.

In the second case, Ford and his friends got onto a Metro Transit bus about 7 p.m. on July 24th at the stop at Penn and 26th Avenue North.  Andrew Billingsley Jr, 38, confronted Ford and his friends at the front of the bus and argued with them over their harassment of his son. The bus driver saw Ford pull out a gun and told Billingsley to get off the bus, which he did, according to the criminal complaint.

Ford ran out the bus’ back door and began shooting at Billingsley, chasing him as he ran to a nearby gas station, where he collapsed, the complaint stated.

At his hearing Monday, Ford agreed to plead guilty and agreed there were aggravating circumstances, which allows the judge to sentence him to more prison time. Ford is expected to be sentenced to 400 months in prison, instead of the 306 months the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines recommend.