Jury finds Minneapolis man guilty of murder


A Hennepin County District Court jury took less than two hours to convict Derrick Zechariah Smith of first-degree intentional murder during an aggravated robbery and second-degree intentional murder, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Smith, 29, will be sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole on Jan. 17 in the shooting of 31-year-old Richard Ambers. Smith and two of his co-defendants also were charged in a fatal shooting in Prior Lake about a month after the Ambers murder.

According to the criminal complaint and testimony in the eight-day trial, Ambers was found dead with two gunshot wounds to the head at 5 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2016. Ambers was found in the driver’s seat of his car which was at 48th and Bryant Avenues North. Earlier that morning, Ayan Wahab, 23, and Tyrel Patterson, 28, were at a Super America station with Smith. Ambers was there, too, trying to sell marijuana. Smith told Wahab to befriend Ambers and find out more about the money and drugs so they could rob him.

Eventually, Ambers and Wahab parked the car where he was found, which was near Brandy Lee Jacques house. Wahab went into Jacques’ home and discussed with Smith and Jacques how to rob Ambers. Wahab then went back to the car and sat with Ambers for a few minutes until Patterson rapped on the vehicle’s window. Wahab left the car and soon heard three gunshots, the complaint states.

Patterson is scheduled to go on trial April 16 on first-degree murder charges in the case. Wahab and Jacques already pleaded guilty to charges of aiding an offender, accomplice after the fact.

Of the four defendants, all but Wahab have also been charged in the Nov. 23, 2016 murder of James Herron in his Prior Lake home. Herron was a drug dealer who was killed while the trio robbed him. The trial for that case is scheduled to begin in April.