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Duluth murder trial set; teen pleads not guilty in Hillside shooting

Patrick Battees Jr. demanded a speedy trial after a judge declined to lower bail or place him on pretrial release.

Patrick Wilson Battees Jr..jpg
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DULUTH — A teen homicide defendant who was recently certified as adult has pleaded not guilty and demanded a speedy trial.

Patrick Wilson Battees Jr., now 19, is charged with fatally shooting his friend, 22-year-old Juamada Keller Anderson Jr., during a scuffle in the Central Hillside area in May 2021. Battees, 17 at the time, has asserted that he acted in self-defense after being confronted by a hostile crowd.

Judge David Johnson scheduled the two-week trial to begin Jan. 4 in State District Court in Duluth. Battees is charged with intentional and unintentional second-degree murder and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality.

Defense attorney J.D. Schmid asked for the speedy trial at a hearing earlier this month after Johnson declined to reduce Battees' $750,000 bail. The demand triggered a 60-day window in which the trial must begin, unless the court finds good cause for a delay.

In entering the not-guilty plea, the defense waived the right to challenge probable cause or constitutional issues related to the gathering of evidence, though Schmid reserved the right for any yet-undisclosed discovery.

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In having his case moved out of juvenile court, Patrick Battees Jr. will face the possiblity of more than 20 years in prison if convicted of fatally shooting Juamada Anderson Jr.

Schmid fought to keep the case in juvenile court, arguing that his client is a vulnerable adult and was not the aggressor in the incident. But Johnson said the defense failed to establish that that would better serve public safety, noting that it was "incredibly unlikely" Battees would receive adequate programming before the expiration of a juvenile sentence upon his 21st birthday.

Schmid asked the court at a Nov. 3 hearing to place Battees under intensive pretrial release in order to help facilitate a possible placement in an adult foster care setting. He still would not have been subject to immediate release, however, as he faces other pending legal cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But Johnson denied that request, siding with St. Louis County prosecutor Nichole Carter, who cited both the severity of the homicide charges and Battees' history in the adult and juvenile court systems.

The shooting occurred just five days after he was released from a Wisconsin correctional facility, having served a nine-month sentence for a July 2020 high-speed chase through Superior in which he was allegedly driving a car that matched the description from a drive-by shooting in Duluth. He remains on probation in that case, and has pending firearms-related delinquency cases in both Carlton and Beltrami counties.

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The scene where Juamada Keller Anderson Jr. was fatally shot in Duluth is pictured June 4, 2021.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

The facts of the present case have largely gone undisputed: that Battees shot Anderson after he was confronted by two other men on the porch of an apartment building at 118 E. Third St. on May 22, 2021.

Video clips showed Battees casually conversing with his friend before he was confronted by two men: one pushing him and the other punching him. The scuffle moved toward the sidewalk before Battees produced a handgun and fired. It was unclear who, if anyone in particular, he was shooting at, but Anderson was struck once in the head.

As Laurel Ladd Jr. became the second defendant to enter a plea, accused killer Patrick Battees Jr. is still awaiting placement in a mental health facility.

Court documents indicate that the confrontation was related to Battees' alleged involvement in the July 2021 shooting, which injured the brother of the fight instigators, Laurel Larice Ladd Jr. Schmid has asserted that Battees acted in self-defense as he was "surrounded by a hostile crowd."

At least four other people are believed to have fired shots in Battees' direction as he fled the scene.

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Battees, though diagnosed with several conditions related to controlled substance use, PTSD and neurocognitive function, has been cleared to stand trial after initially being found incompetent and placed under a civil committment.

If convicted of intentional murder, he could face a presumptive prison sentence in excess of 25 years.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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