Jury convicts Chappell in deadly Blue Nile shootout


A Hennepin County jury convicted Cedric Chappell Jr. of murder and attempted murder Thursday in a gunfight at the Blue Nile nightclub, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.

The jury, which began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon, convicted Chappell, 22, of aiding and abetting second-degree murder for the benefit of a gang in the death of Willie James Smith III and attempted second-degree murder in the wounding of another man.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 11.  The county attorney’s office will be seeking between 21 and 30 years for the murder conviction and half of that for the attempted murder and will ask for the sentences to be served consecutively.

According to the criminal complaint and testimony in the trial, which began August 4, Chappell was hanging out with a number of friends at the Blue Nile, 2027 E. Franklin Ave., in the early morning of Sept. 28. Chappell and his friends were associated with the 10s street gang.

An argument broke out in the nightclub between the 10s gang and members of the DTs gang.  The fight spilled out into the parking lot and 35 shots were fired. In a recorded police interview, Chappell admitted to shooting at the 22-year-old Smith, of St. Paul, and the other man.

Chappell was arrested four days after the shooting on the campus of Valley City State University in North Dakota where he was a student and football player.