Minneapolis man pleads guilty in fatal shooting, faces long sentence


Ernesto Rivera decided not to take his chances with a jury and a possible life sentence, but instead pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.  

Rivera, 41, of Minneapolis will be sentenced to 450 months in prison, or 37.5 years, at his next hearing on Oct. 2. He had been indicted by a Hennepin County Grand Jury for first-degree murder in the death of 46-year-old Michael Rekow on Sept. 9, 2017. Jury selection was to begin Monday.

“This is an appropriate sentence for a cold-hearted murder,” Freeman said. “We sought the first-degree indictment because we saw Mr. Rivera as a very real and continuing threat to public safety. He will be in his mid-60s, at the earliest, when he is released.”

According to the criminal complaint and his admissions in court Monday afternoon, Rivera set up a meeting with Rekow, who he had known for about a year, in the 4500 block of Stevens Avenue south. Rivera was driven there in a van by another friend and two others he barely knew.

They waited and about 2:30 a.m. Rekow showed up in his car, accompanied by his girlfriend. Rekow walked back to the van and climbed in. The two men had a discussion about some business, which Rivera declined to reveal Monday, and it soon became heated, Rivera admitted.

Rivera’s friend handed him a gun. Rekow ran back to his car with Rivera firing four shots at him, two of which struck him, Rivera acknowledged.

“You intended to kill him,” Rivera’s attorney said.

“Yes, ma’am,” he responded.

Rekow tried to drive away, but did not get far before the two bullet wounds, including one to the head, took his life and caused the car to run into the freeway sound wall.