Rochester man pleads guilty to killing of pregnant woman, toddler
Renard Carter pleaded guilty Thursday in Olmsted County District Court to two charges of second-degree murder and second-degree murder of an unborn child.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Just feet away from the man who admitted to killing them, the smiling faces of Keona Sade Foote, 23, and her daughter, 2-year-old Miyona Zayla Lee-Miller, looked up at Foote's mother from a larger-than-life-sized photo.
On Thursday, July 15, 30-year-old Renard Carter pleaded guilty in Olmsted County District Court to second-degree murder, second-degree murder with intent, and second-degree murder of an unborn child.
Foote and Miyona were found dead on Sept. 13, 2020, in their home at Olympik Village Apartments in Rochester.
Carter testified Thursday that on Sept. 10, he put his hands around Miyona’s neck and applied pressure until the toddler died. He said he then forced Foote to place a phone charging cord around her own neck and tighten it before he himself tightened it further.
Multiple videos of the killings were recorded by Carter and posted to social media.
“I took a shower. She was still breathing, and I left,” he said of leaving Foote to die in the apartment. “I knew she wasn’t going to wake up."
Before Carter killed Foote, who was in her first trimester of pregnancy, he said she had confronted him about his infidelity. Carter claimed in court that Foote made a remark about their unborn child and attempted to physically harm him.
“That’s when I lost it,” he said. “I blacked out.”
At one point in the hearing, Foote’s mother, Brandy Williams, left the courtroom sobbing. She watched the remainder of the hearing from a conference room via the Zoom hearing, which allowed others to attend remotely. The hearing was also briefly paused to allow for the attorneys to meet with Judge Lisa Hayne in her chambers over concerns of the truthfulness of Carter's testimony.
A sentencing date was not set at Thursday’s hearing. Carter’s $5 million unconditional bail was revoked, and he is being held without bail until the sentencing hearing.
A sentencing recommendation was presented to the court that would see Carter serve three consecutive sentences of 426 months, 326 months and 326 months. Combined, the sentences add up to just shy of 90 years.
In Minnesota, two-thirds of a state prison sentence is served in prison, and the remaining third, assuming a person incurs no additional time while serving their sentence, is served on supervised release. If Hayne follows the recommendation, Carter would spend nearly 60 years in state prison.
To be charged with first-degree murder in Minnesota, a grand jury must indict the person. A conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, grand juries across the state had been unable to meet for months.
Carter was arrested on Sept. 14 in South Carolina after police said he went there with plans to kill a former girlfriend. He was shot by law enforcement officers as they arrested him.
Police believed he had a gun, but it was later determined that it was a BB gun. He was briefly hospitalized for his injuries before he was returned to Rochester. The complaint also says he told medical workers that he wanted to be killed by police.
Carter was released from prison on April 22, 2020, after serving a sentence for felony domestic assault, the criminal complaint states.