Guilty plea in shooting of man walking with girlfriend


Varnell Allen pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a man as he strolled down Hennepin Avenue with his girlfriend, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Allen, 23, entered a straight plea to the sole count of second-degree intentional murder Tuesday morning. He had been scheduled to go to trial April 20. Instead, he will be sentenced on that date.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Jeannice Reding stressed to Allen before taking his guilty plea that there “was no deal with the prosecution and no deal with the judge” and, in fact, she did not know yet what sentence she would impose. She also pointed out that Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines called for a range of 261 months to 367 months in prison for his crime. Allen said he understood all of that.

According to the criminal complaint, at about 10:20 p.m. Sept. 28, 21-year-old Enzo Herrera Garcia was walking along Hennepin Avenue near Eighth Street with his girlfriend when a silver vehicle, driven by Allen, pulled up next to them and Allen and another person yelled something at the couple.

Herrera Garcia yelled something back. Allen stopped the car and he and his passenger got out of the car and started beating the victim, with Allen striking him with a gun. During the beating, Allen dropped the gun then picked it up and fired one shot that struck Herrera Garcia in the back.

Under questioning from his attorney, Allen admitted he did not know the victim but shot him, intended to shoot and kill him. Allen also admitted he was not acting in self-defense.

Allen was not asked what words were exchanged between him and Herrera Garcia and he did not offer any explanation for the shooting.