23-year-old Woman Admits to Role in Northfield Man’s Murder
Northfield, MN (KROC-AM News) - The final defendant charged in connection with the murder of a rural Northfield man last summer has worked out a plea agreement with Dakota County prosecutors.
A news release from the Dakota County Attorney's Office says 23-year-old Ryann Smith of White Bear Lake entered a guilty plea Monday to one count of first-degree assault. She had been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder for her involvement in the death of 55-year-old Chris Lafontaine.
He was found dead in the bathroom of his home, with his hands and legs bound together and a rag and glove fastened over his mouth. An autopsy later determined Lafontaine's death was the result of asphyxiation.
His body was discovered the afternoon of July 2 after Dakota County deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress at the property. Officials say a neighbor had gone to check on Lafontaine and called 911 after spotting two men running away from the residence and speeding away in the victim's SUV.
The vehicle was later located in Northfield, where police officers captured the driver and the front-seat passenger. Stephanie Peabody and Timothy Tuit earlier entered guilty pleas to aiding an offender and are scheduled to be sentenced on May 11th. The two other occupants of the stolen SUV, Smith and Nicholas Taylor managed to elude authorities but were later captured in Montana.
Taylor, who is from St. Paul, admitted to a second-degree murder charge last month and is scheduled for sentencing on June 2. Dakota County prosecutors say a presentencing investigation has been ordered for Smith, who also has her sentencing hearing scheduled on June 2. In the meantime, she is being held in the Dakota County jail without bail.