Second man pleads guilty in connection to Duluth homicide; more details emerge in Hillside shooting
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.
DULUTH — A man who allegedly instigated a fight that led to a fatal shooting in the city's Central Hillside neighborhood last year has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
Laurel Larice Ladd Jr., 26, is the second person to enter a guilty plea in connection with his actions at the scene of the May shooting death of Juamada Keller Anderson Jr., 22.
Court documents state that Ladd sought to confront Patrick Wilson Battees Jr., who he believed to be responsible for shooting and injuring his brother in 2020. Police said Ladd, armed with a handgun, went to the 100 block of East Third Street with another man, Markus Seville Morris, and approached the 17-year-old.
A melee broke out and Anderson was fatally shot by Battees, according to court documents. Authorities said Ladd then handed off his weapon to Morris, who allegedly fired twice at Battees.
Duluth police described the crime scene as "chaotic" with at least four suspects alleged to have fired shots amid the crowd.
Ladd entered the plea Friday to a felony count of aiding an offender, with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office dropping a second count of aiding and abetting second-degree assault.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Ladd would receive a stay of imposition, which would allow the conviction to be deemed a misdemeanor upon successful completion of one year of supervised probation. He would not serve any additional time in jail as long as he remains law-abiding and complies with all conditions.
Ladd was ordered to cooperate with an investigation of his background ahead of sentencing by Judge Eric Hylden on March 7.
Details continue to emerge
An amended criminal complaint filed in November connects the May incident to a shooting that injured Ladd's brother at Duluth's Harbor Highlands on July 31, 2020.
Battees, driving an SUV that matched the suspect vehicle description, was arrested a short time later after leading Superior police on a high-speed chase. He was later placed on three years of probation, including nine months of jail time in Douglas County.
But Battees was not charged in the Duluth shooting, as investigators said several eyewitnesses in the area reported seeing an African American man shooting at the victim before fleeing on foot. Ladd's brother also did not believe the occupants of the vehicle to be responsible for the shooting, according to court documents.
Ladd allegedly spoke with investigators at the time and said he "had heard from some people" that it was Battees who shot his brother, but police said he "had no direct information relative to the shooting."
Police reports filed in the May homicide case indicate that Battees and Anderson were conversing on the porch of an apartment building at 118 E. Third St. just before the fatal shooting, with Ladd and Morris pulling into a nearby parking lot and seemingly "forming a plan."
Video allegedly showed Morris walking up to Battees on the porch and demonstrating "pre-attack cues by sizing up Battees and pulling his shorts up." Anderson could then be seen getting between the two men before Morris pushes him against the railing, the reports state.
Investigators said Ladd could then be seen entering the confrontation and punching Battees. As the scuffle moved toward the sidewalk, Ladd reportedly handed a gun to Morris.
Battees then allegedly took out his own firearm and shot Anderson as the crowd began to disperse. Authorities have not made clear why he allegedly shot the man with whom he had conversing moments earlier.
Video allegedly shows Morris pointing his gun and shooting twice at Battees before handing the weapon back to Ladd, who then fled back to his car. Authorities said Battees ran into the downtown area, hiding his gun in a discarded couch, before has arrested.
Ladd, according to court documents, later admitted to a family friend in the Twin Cities area that he confronted Battees about shooting his brother. He also described the fight spilling off the porch and Battees fatally shooting Anderson.
Battees still awaiting treatment facility
Battees, now 18, was found incompetent to stand trial on juvenile charges in October, and it remains to be seen when his case may be prepared to move forward. Despite being referred to the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center in the Twin Cities, he has remained at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth.
Becky Pogatchnik, AJC director, told the court last month that Anoka has not been accepting new clients due to COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, she said adult criminal inmates have priority at the facility and officials have indicated they are "nowhere near offering Patrick a bed, as they are so many priority people ahead of him."
Battees was interviewed by multiple psychologists last year, with the court finding that he "poses a risk of harm due to a mental illness," as he suffers from "clinical presentation of malingering, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, severe amphetamine use disorder, severe alcohol use disorder (and) moderate cannabis use disorder."
Pogatchnik said Battees has been meeting with Human Development Center psychiatrists at AJC and remains compliant with medications, telling the court that "it sounds like Patrick would not receive much more in terms of services" at Anoka than he is currently. She indicated a social worker would request an updated competency evaluation at the expiration of his current, six-month commitment.
A review hearing was scheduled before Judge Hylden on Monday to discuss Battees' placement.
Battees is charged with intentional and unintentional second-degree murder and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality. Prosecutors are seeking to have him certified to stand trial as an adult.
Morris, 32, who faces two felony firearm charges, is set to appear in court Friday.
Another teen who allegedly fired shots at the scene, Eddie Ezra Conyers Jr., pleaded not guilty last month to two firearm charges and one gross misdemeanor count of drug possession. Conyers, 18, is scheduled to face trial May 3.
Tyrone Deshun Childs Sr., 36, pleaded guilty last fall to firing shots from a within a vehicle parked near the scene of Anderson's death. He was sentenced in December to 67 months in prison.