Witnesses help police ID suspect charged in woman's bus stop murder

Monday, October 19, 2015

A second-degree murder charge was filed against a 50-year-old Minneapolis man in the shooting death of a woman at a bus stop, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Gerald Cepeda was charged in the Oct. 13 death of Jessica Denise St. Marie, 28, of Wadena. He is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday and prosecutors are seeking $1 million bail.

“At the moment, we cannot answer why Ms. St. Marie was shot,” Freeman said. “But because of the help of several witnesses, police were able to identify a suspect and today we were able to charge him with second-degree murder.”

Just before 7 p.m. Oct. 13, police were called to a shooting at the bus shelter at Lake Street East and Park Avenue South. According to a man who was with St. Marie, about 10 minutes before the shooting Cepeda came to where they were standing near the bus shelter and started arguing with her. He left, but returned later as St. Marie and her companion were sitting on the bus shelter’s bench. Cepeda pulled out a revolver, fired two shots, one of which struck St. Marie in the head, and then fled, according to the criminal complaint.

Another man heard gunshots as he was driving near the bus shelter. He saw one of the three people there start walking south on Park Avenue. The man drove around the block and followed Cepeda until he turned into an alley behind the houses in the 3100 block of Oakland and Parks Avenues, the complaint states.

Another witness was a clerk at the Shell Station near the bus stop. He reported that Cepeda, a regular customer, was there and used the automatic teller machine before the shooting. Through bank records, police learned Cepeda used his mother’s electronic benefits transfer card in the ATM, the complaint states. Cepeda and his mother live at 3124 Park Avenue, near where the driver had followed the shooter.

Police searched his home and Cepeda agreed to talk to police. He said he saw the victim and the man with her at the bus stop and thought about asking her for a cigarette, but she seemed agitated. Then Cepeda said he heard three gunshots and he walked quickly home, according to the complaint.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)