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Duluth man pleads guilty to murder of Iraq war veteran

Luis Mark Hogan admitted in St. Louis County District Court this morning that he had other options on June 30 when he fought in his backyard with Iraq war soldier Adam Sheda, but instead he put the soldier's Derringer-style pistol under Sheda's c...

Luis Mark Hogan admitted in St. Louis County District Court this morning that he had other options on June 30 when he fought in his backyard with Iraq war soldier Adam Sheda, but instead he put the soldier's Derringer-style pistol under Sheda's chin and fired.

Hogan made that admission as part of a plea-agreement with the state and pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder. He agreed to serve a 12½-year prison sentence under sentencing guidelines.

The defendant faced more than double that prison sentence - 306 months - if he were convicted of the charged crime of intentional second-degree murder.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark Munger scheduled sentencing for May 19.

Hogan, 26, was crying when he related how he killed the 26-year-old Cloquet man, who he referred to throughout his tes-timony as "Mr. Sheda.''

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Hogan related events from that night under questioning by St. Louis County prosecutor Gary Bjorklund.

Hogan said Sheda showed up uninvited in his backyard at 927 E. Fifth St. Police were called to a report of shots fired there at 3:39 a.m.

According to the criminal complaint, Sheda jumped the fence of the East Hillside home, sought entry to a party with a $100 bill and later pulled a pistol that was turned against him.

The defendant testified that Sheda pulled out some money and another man who Hogan didn't know grabbed the money. "Mr. Sheda turned on me and swung at me,'' Hogan testified. "He didn't hit me but grazed my lip.''

He said they started fighting. The victim was on the other side of his backyard fence when the fight started. He said Sheda eventually crossed the fence.

Police believe the actions of both men were fueled by alcohol. Hogan admitted that he was legally drunk. The prosecutor asked Hogan who was getting the better of the fight. The defendant said he was. At some point, Sheda lost his wallet with approximately $1,600 in it, according to police reports.

Staff Sgt. Sheda had returned a little over a week earlier from a tour of duty with the Army National Guard in Iraq.

Hogan said his brother, Diego, got a flashlight and they found the wallet which he said was given back to the victim. Hogan said Sheda was told to leave, but that he didn't want to.

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"He called me and my brother a name,'' Hogan testified. He said he and his brother both then started to fight with Sheda. Under questioning by Bjorklund, he said he and his brother were getting the better of the fight.

At a later point only Sheda and he were in the backyard, Luis Hogan said. He said he was on one knee. Sheda was on his back on the ground. He became aware that the victim had a gun.

Bjorklund asked Hogan how he knew Sheda had a gun. "When he fired it,'' the defendant said.

Hogan said he first backed off Sheda and then hit him a couple times to get the gun.

"Did you put the gun under the victim's chin?" Bjorklund asked. "Yes, sir,'' Hogan said.

"And you shot him?'' "Yes, sir.''

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses told police that Hogan yelled "187" and an expletive before shooting the victim, who died on the ground outside the apartment.

The number 187 is included in the lyrics of some gangsta rap music and refers to the section of the California Penal Code that deals with murder. Police said that Hogan admitted knowing what 187 means.

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Hogan was crying as he admitted to Duluth's only murder of 2007.

The defendant was employed at the time of the murder and has no prior record of violent crime. He has convictions for shoplifting $2.67 worth of goods from a Duluth grocery store and disorderly conduct.

"The first words that come to mind are it's a tragedy,'' Bjorklund said after the hearing. "It's been devastating on both families. A trial, I think, would have been very emotional and difficult for both families. Basically, no one is happy on this case. We didn't walk away winners. It's going to have long-term effects on both families for a long time.''

Public defenders Steven Coz and Laura Zimm declined comment after the hearing.

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