Man pleads guilty to running over and hitting man on well-traveled Mpls. street

August 28, 2018

A sentence of nearly 11 years awaits a man who ran over and killed a 37-year-old man on a Minneapolis street when he was in a rage about an ex-girlfriend, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Tristen E. Baier, 22, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court to second-degree unintentional murder in the 2016 death of 37-year-old Roberto Bernabe Cortez, who lived at the same multiunit address as the former girlfriend.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24, when Baier is expected start serving a term of 10⅔ years. With time spent in jail, Baier will serve about six years in prison and the balance on supervised release.

Baiers plea came during his second trial in this case. Last year, jurors acquitted him of first-degree murder and failed to reach a verdict on other charges.

According to his guilty plea and the original criminal complaint, on the night of Oct. 22, 2016, Baier was angry at his ex-girlfriend and went to the house in the 2900 block of Portland Avenue where she lived. Baier used a baseball bat to smash the windows of a car that he mistakenly believed was his girlfriends.

A resident in the home stepped outside to investigate the noise and chased Baier, who ran to his van. During that chase, Baiers pursuer pulled a knife, but Baier raised his bat up to his side, got in his van and drove off.

Baier admitted in court to still being mad at his girlfriend and upset that someone had pulled a knife on him, so after driving a block or two, he returned to Portland Avenue and drove toward some people gathered on the street near the house. Most of them scattered as the van closed in, but Cortez was not fast enough to avoid being run over.

Cortez was not the man who allegedly brandished the knife, and the man who chased Baier also has denied having a knife.

District Judge Fred Karasov asked Baier whether he understood that once you got in the van and left, you lost any right to claim self-defense when you came back? Baier said yes.

Paul Walsh 612-673-4482

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