ST. PAUL - Lyle Marvin “Ty” Hoffman shot Kelly Phillips three times - once in the head at close range - before fleeing in his former partner’s car and hiding the vehicle near the area where he grew up in Blaine, prosecutors say.
In a condo about a half an hour away in downtown Minneapolis, investigators allegedly found a suitcase packed with men’s clothing, as well as Hoffman’s passport, prescription medication and handgun ammunition that matched the bullets used to shoot Phillips, according to court documents.
The residence belongs to one of Hoffman’s friends, prosecutors said, and the 44-year-old allegedly used it on occasion.
Details about the allegations facing Hoffman were revealed Friday after he made his first appearance in Ramsey County District Court on one charge of intentional second-degree murder in Phillips’ death.
Shirtless beneath a protective vest, Hoffman waved to his sister, Dawn Gominsky, before being escorted from the courtroom.
Phillips’ fiance, Nathon Bailey, was also at the hearing and appeared upset after the brief proceeding.
Hoffman’s bail was set at $2 million.
The complaint charging Hoffman had previously been sealed during the monthlong manhunt that ensued after Phillip’s death Aug. 11.
More charges could be filed later as the Ramsey County attorney’s office reviews additional details of the subsequent investigation, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a news conference Friday afternoon.
He added that Hoffman’s alleged involvement in a Blaine bank robbery Aug. 31 was “under investigation by the appropriate authorities.”
Phillips, 48, was Hoffman’s former romantic and business partner. The two opened Lush Food Bar, a popular gay club in northeast Minneapolis, in 2009. Court documents described Phillips as the owner and Hoffman as the manager.
Sometime after they broke up, Hoffman was fired and evicted from Phillips’ residence, the charges said. He also took business records from the bar without permission, investigators say.
About 8:20 a.m. Aug. 11, Kelly’s BMW pulled into a Holiday gas station in Arden Hills. Witnesses heard arguing from the car, then saw Phillips run out, the charges said.
A man later identified as Hoffman followed, shooting, according to the charges. He shot Phillips twice from a distance and once at point-blank range in the back of the head while Phillips was on his knees, court documents say.
The man then fled in the BMW. Investigators found the vehicle hidden in Blaine, not far from where Hoffman grew up, the charges said. A live round from a .45 handgun was reportedly inside.
The key to Hoffman’s own vehicle, a Ford Edge SUV, was apparently discarded nearby.
Hoffman’s Ford was found abandoned in downtown Minneapolis, the complaint said.
“We found (Hoffman’s) keys near the BMW … and his suitcase with his passport in it along with magazines … that matched a live round found in the car and the bullet casings found at the scene, so, you know, I think that’s pretty telling,” inspector Rob Allen of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said of the evidence.
Hoffman was apprehended Thursday near a fast-food restaurant in Shakopee after a concerned citizen spotted a suspicious person lurking in the area and called police. He was unarmed, and the murder weapon has yet to be recovered.
Police were still seeking the gun they said was used to kill Phillips - a brown and camouflage .45-caliber Glock handgun. They’re asking anyone who may find it to refrain from touching it and call authorities.
Hoffman was assigned a public defender. His next court date is Oct. 3.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.