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St. Paul man gets 15 years in prison for killing brother in the family home

November 29, 2018

A St. Paul man who fatally shot his brother inside the familys St. Paul home earlier this year was sentenced to 15 years in prison despite pleas from his mother and supporters for leniency.

Justin M. Girling, 33, also penned a handwritten note to the court in a failed attempt to earn probation for himself instead of incarceration, promising that if were a free man, he would operate an ecumenical ministry to spread a message of salvation, healing, freedom from bondage, and restoration, all the works of the Kingdom of God that Jesus said His believers can do.

If I make myself available, God does the rest, Girling wrote in a letter filed by his attorney. Others are doing this, but its not enough. The need is so great in the churches and in society.

Girling pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder with intent for killing his half-brother, Kurt Schmeck, about 1:40 p.m. on Jan. 31 in their mothers home in the Daytons Bluff neighborhood. Both men lived at the home.

Ramsey County District Judge Leonardo Castro sentenced Girling Thursday to prison, noting that although Schmeck, 47, had a history of verbal abuse against Girling and their mother, he had no history of physical abuse. Castro also said it worried him that at an Oct. 25 hearing, Girling said he wished he could bring his brother back because his death wasnt worth incarceration.

This crime has made a fool of me, Castro quoted Girling as saying.

Mr. Girling, these are not words of remorse, Castro said. These are words of regret.

Girlings attorney, Jennifer Congdon, asked for probation, arguing that although her client should not have taken deadly action, he was a law-abiding citizen who endured years of torment, threats and verbal abuse from Schmeck.

Assistant Ramsey County County Attorney Hao Nguyen asked for about 22 years in prison, arguing that Girling was a threat to public safety.

The people of Ramsey County cant afford the defendant making another miscalculation, Nguyen said.

The mens mother, Janet Schmeck, attended the sentencing and said afterward that although Kurt Schmeck did not threaten Girling on the day of the shooting, he had threatened to kill Girling many other times.

It was awful living under it, Janet Schmeck said of her older sons alleged behavior. We didnt know what to do. The judge does not know the whole truth.

Girling gave a lengthy statement at his Oct. 25 hearing, and spoke briefly Thursday before he was sentenced. He referenced previous incidents where he didnt use deadly force against strangers who were yelling at or ridiculing him despite the fact that he was carrying a gun at the time. Girling had a permit to carry.

Nguyen had used the anecdotes to show that Girling knew better and should be held accountable for taking his brothers life.

I would avoid conflict in the future the same way I did in society, Girling said in his final bid for probation.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Girling and court documents filed by Congdon: Janet Schmeck was baking cookies when Kurt Schmeck emerged from his basement bedroom.

[Kurt] Schmeck yelled at [her] that he didnt like cookies, the complaint said.

Kurt Schmeck left to buy chickpeas. When he returned, he complained about the service he received at the store.

Janet Schmeck was removing cookies from the oven when Girling came downstairs to ask about their activity.

This isnt your house, Girling said to his brother.

What are you going to do about it tough guy? Kurt Schmeck said.

The complaint said Kurt Schmeck walked toward Girling, who shot him with a handgun from about 6 feet away. Congdon wrote that Kurt Schmeck lunged at her client.

He shot me, Kurt Schmeck said after falling to the ground onto his stomach.

Kurt Schmeck tried to get up, and Girling shot him two more times.

The mens mother told police the brothers hated each other.

Chao Xiong 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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