Jury convicts Wren of killing one, paralyzing another


A jury took about three hours to convict James Wren of unintentional second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the first Hennepin County murder trial since the coronavirus shutdown, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Wren, 36, of Minneapolis will be sentenced on July 30 and prosecutors will be seeking a sentence of more than 27 years.

The jury acquitted Wren of first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder in the death of 40-year-old Michael Clark. The assault charge is for wounding a second man who is permanently paralyzed from the bullet.

The trial was the first murder trial since the Hennepin County District Court began holding trials again at the beginning of June. The court room was re-arranged to allow social distancing among jurors, attorneys and spectators. The trial lasted 15 days.

“We thought the jury did a fine job under a difficult situation,” Freeman said. “Although we sought charges for intentional conduct, we are satisfied with the results. We remain confident that the Judge will sentence Mr. Wren for an extended period of time."

About 2:15 a.m. on June 10, 2019, police were called to a fight in a parking lot on Hennepin Avenue near Augie’s nightclub. As they arrived, they heard gunshots. A tow truck driver witnessed the shooting and pointed to the fleeing Wren.

Between extensive surveillance video and the eyewitness testimony, prosecutors outlined to the jury how Wren got into a fight in the parking lot with the two victims. Wren left but returned a short time later with a gun, walked to near the front of the parked tow truck and fired repeatedly at the two victims.