Guilty plea in cold-blooded Minneapolis murder

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Juan Vasquez, Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder and is expected to receive a sentence of 39 years in prison when he is sentenced April 4, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Vasquez, 19, of Minneapolis, was facing a trial on first-degree murder and the possibility of life in prison without parole when he agreed to the guilty plea Friday afternoon. The other charges in the grand jury indictment will be dropped.

According to the criminal complaint and Vasquez’s testimony Friday, early on the morning of March 25, 2018, a group of young people were standing on the sidewalk near 2400 Ogema Place in the Little Earth community when Vasquez and another man walked up to them.

Immediately, 19-year-old Alexander Lagarde, who was visiting from Chanhassen, went to a nearby home and tried to enter, but was unsuccessful. Vasquez was trying to exchange words with Lagarde. As Lagarde was trying to get into the house, Vasquez walked up the steps, peered into Lagarde’s face, pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots, killing him and injuring a nearby teenager.

Vasquez gave no reason for the killing during his guilty plea. However, he agreed that the judge could give him a sentence that is higher than that recommended by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines because of aggravating circumstances. Those circumstances, he admitted, were that his actions put the public at more risk than other crimes and he treated Lagarde with unusual cruelty.

In June, a Hennepin County Grand Jury indicted Vasquez and the man with him, Dakota LaFave, on seven counts of murder, assault and illegal possession of a gun. LaFave, 29, of Fond du Lac, is set for trial April 14. He was also indicted in August by a federal grand jury on several counts including attempted murder in aid of racketeering in a case from 2017.