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Carlton man pleads guilty in 2018 Gary-New Duluth shooting death

Brian Shaw fatally shot Kevin Weiss Jr. during a confrontation involving his former girlfriend, who had been dating the victim.

shaw for web.jpg
Brian Ross Shaw
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DULUTH — The defendant in a 2018 Gary-New Duluth neighborhood homicide case pleaded guilty Tuesday morning.

Brian Ross Shaw, 38, of Carlton, pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder for the shooting death of Kevin Weiss Jr., 35, on Dec. 10, 2018. Under the plea agreement, his second charge, second-degree manslaughter, was dismissed.

Judge Eric Hylden accepted the plea Tuesday.

Shaw fatally shot Weiss during a confrontation involving his former girlfriend, who had been dating the victim. Shaw told police the shooting was accidental and that he was shoved by Weiss.

“I shot Kevin,” Shaw said in the Duluth courtroom Tuesday, confirming he used a 12-gauge shotgun.

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Under the plea agreement, Shaw cannot claim it was an accident or that it was in an act of self-defense.

Had it gone to trial, Shaw had given notice that he would argue his actions were legally justifiable as he acted in defense of himself and others. The prosecution planned to argue that it was a deliberate act, as proven by forensic evidence.

Without the plea, the case was set for a two-week trial beginning Tuesday, Aug. 16. The trial was first scheduled for January 2020, but was delayed four times, prompting frustration from Weiss’ family members.

Prosecutor Nate Stumme, head of the Duluth criminal division of the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, said the plea agreement was reached in consultation with Weiss’ family.

“I believe the family is quite in support of this petition,” Stumme said.

After the hearing, Shaw was taken into custody. He is being held at the St. Louis County Jail without bail.

Shaw’s sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 3. He could face 141-198 months in prison, according to state guidelines.

“We are pleased that Mr. Shaw finally accepted responsibility and will be held accountable for the murder of Mr. Weiss. We extend our deepest condolences to the Weiss family and hope this resolution brings them some semblance of peace and closure,” St. Louis County Attorney Kimberly Maki said in a news release.

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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 reportedly said he had a terminal illness and had been stockpiling guns, told police that Weiss eventually shoved him, causing the accidental shooting.

But authorities 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.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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