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Charges allege Duluth homicide happened during robbery attempt

Tara Rai Baker (left) and Xavier Alfred Haywood

The fatal shooting of a University of Minnesota Duluth student last month came during an attempted robbery at his East Hillside residence, according to charges filed against two suspects on Monday.

William GrahekWilliam Andrew Grahek, 22, was shot twice during the incident inside a house at 510 E. 11th St. on Feb. 14. The charges allege that a trio of suspects entered his house in an attempt to steal drugs and cash and that Grahek was shot when he refused to comply with their demands.

Two of five suspects — including the woman who allegedly drove the suspects to and from the scene and the man who allegedly coordinated the robbery — were charged Monday afternoon in State District Court in Duluth.

Tara Rai Baker, 22, of Duluth, faces felony charges of aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder and first-degree aggravated robbery.

Xavier Alfred Haywood, 26, also of Duluth, is charged with a felony count of aiding an offender to avoid arrest.

The additional suspects — Deandre Demetrius Davenport, 21; Noah Duane Baker, 19; and Noah Anthony Charles King, 18 — are being held on preliminary charges of second-degree intentional murder and are expected to be formally charged and arraigned Tuesday.

The two criminal complaints filed Monday allege that Haywood informed Davenport, King and Noah Baker that Grahek had “large amounts of cash and controlled substances” in a safe inside his house and instructed them to rob him.

Authorities said the three, dressed in dark clothing and in possession of a Glock 9mm handgun, were driven to the residence by Tara Baker. They entered the residence and ordered Grahek to turn over the “stuff,” but he refused and Davenport shot him twice, according to the complaints.

Prosecutors said the three fled in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, which was owned and driven by Tara Baker, who is the sister of Noah Baker and the girlfriend of Davenport. Baker allegedly told police that she drove because she was only one with a valid license.

Police said they obtained surveillance video showing the Jeep driving past King’s residence on the 500 block of East 10th Street, just a block below Grahek’s house, shortly before 1:30 p.m. A short time later, two people could be seen walking west toward King’s house.

Investigators determined that the shooting happened between 1:53 and 2 p.m. The Jeep could be seen driving at a “high rate of speed” down the 700 block of Ninth Street, a few blocks from the homicide scene, just one minute after the shooting was reported to 911, according to the charges.

Authorities said the suspects apparently changed clothes sometime before the Jeep was again captured on video at a gas station across the street from King’s house at 2:26 p.m. The video shows King leaving the Jeep and walking back to his house, investigators said.

Investigators said they also obtained photos of Davenport holding what appears to be a Glock 9mm handgun taken approximately a week before the shooting.

While fleeing the scene, Davenport reportedly called Haywood, who told him that they need to “lay low” and said he would make arrangements for a hotel room in Superior.

Haywood allegedly had another woman book the room in her name and they picked up Davenport. Tara Baker drove her brother and children to the hotel later that night, according to the charges.

Any connections between Grahek and the suspects were not clear from the complaints. The documents also did not detail how investigators learned much of the information.

A Twin Cities native, Grahek was the son of a St. Paul police sergeant and was studying computer science and criminology at UMD. He was a member of the Duluth-based U.S. Army Reserve 312th Engineer Company and played for the university's Fighting Penguins club rugby team.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark Munger set bail at $500,000 for Tara Baker and $50,000 for Haywood during their arraignments late Monday afternoon.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Vicky Wanta argued that Baker is a flight risk and said authorities obtained evidence that she and Davenport were planning to flee the area as soon as she received her income tax return.

Chief Public Defender Dan Lew, who represented Baker for the limited purpose of the arraignment hearing and will be assigning another attorney to the case, reserved comment except to call the bail request “excessive” for a 22-year-old with little criminal history.

Baker’s criminal record is limited to minor convictions for underage consumption and possession of stolen property. If convicted, the murder charge carries a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.

At Haywood’s hearing, the judge rejected the prosecution’s request to set bail in the amount of $250,000.

In requesting the higher figure, Wanta pointed to Haywood’s criminal history — which includes a financial transaction card fraud conviction in Minnesota in addition to battery and firearms convictions in Illinois — as well as his alleged role in the aftermath of the crime.

“My belief is that anyone who is willing to help people out in any way after knowing that they just killed someone is just as much of a danger to the public as someone who actually pulled the trigger,” Wanta argued to the judge.

Public defender Rebecca Shaw, however, noted that the aiding charge against Haywood has the lowest severity level for a felony charge — carrying only three years in prison — and said he would likely receive a probationary sentence if convicted.

Shaw said Haywood has lived in Duluth for seven years, is working and has a girlfriend and two children.

She argued that he was not a flight risk, and said he could be released on his own recognizance or with a referral to pretrial supervised release. At most, she argued, bail should not be higher than $15,000.

Munger agreed with Shaw in finding the state’s request to be excessive, noting that he is only charged with making the hotel arrangements to help his co-defendants elude capture.

“I’m troubled by the line in the complaint that he somehow played a part in the conspiracy, or the planning of the robbery,” the judge said. “But that’s not what he’s charged with. … He’s not part of the actual robbery and alleged murder in this case.”

Both defendants are due back in court on March 30.

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