A Duluth homicide trial that has already experienced a number of delays has been rescheduled yet again, this time pushing the case past the three-year mark.
Brian Ross Shaw, 37, was set to face a jury Tuesday in the December 2018 shooting death of a longtime acquaintance, 35-year-old Kevin Weiss Jr., in the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood. But an issue apparently involving COVID-19 forced officials to scrap a final pretrial motion hearing that had been set to occur in person Monday at the Duluth courthouse.
Judge Jill Eichenwald, instead of hearing the matter over Zoom, rescheduled the trial to begin Jan. 4, said Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Nate Stumme, who cited "health issues among the parties."
That means the trial is now slated to get underway almost exactly two years after it was first scheduled. The case, first set to be heard by a jury in January 2020, has been beset by a series of continuances stemming from both legal issues and pandemic regulations.
Prosecutors allege that Shaw deliberately shot Weiss during a confrontation involving his then-former girlfriend, who had been dating Weiss. Shaw told police the shooting was accidental and that he was shoved by Weiss — but that account was disputed by forensic experts.
Authorities said Weiss had been kicked out of the woman's residence and returned Dec. 10, 2018, acting erratically and breaking a window. Shaw, who was living in Hibbing after breaking up with the woman, allegedly exchanged threatening text messages with Weiss before driving down to confront him.
Shaw told police that Weiss continued to advance on him and refused commands to back off in the confrontation outside the residence on the 100 block of West Reis Street. Shaw, who stated that he has a terminal illness, said Weiss eventually shoved him, causing the accidental shooting, according to the complaint.
But prosecutors contested his version, citing forensic analysis from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that allegedly showed that the shotgun would only discharge if the safety lever was manually moved to the "fire" position and the trigger was pulled. Additionally, the report said Weiss was shot by shotgun pellets in a downward trajectory.
Defense attorney Matthew Benfield has indicated he will argue that Shaw acted justifiably in defense of himself and others. The defendant is charged with intentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Free on bond and now listed as living in Carlton, Shaw has five other cases pending in area courts alleging either acts of domestic violence or violations of a no-contact order. All have occurred since his release following Weiss' death.