- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota jury deliberated for about nine hours Monday before convicting a man in the killing of a police officer during a routine traffic stop in West St. Paul last summer.

Jurors in Stearns County found Brian Fitch Sr. guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Mendota Heights Officer Scott Patrick on July 30.

Fitch, 40, was also found guilty of three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault and two weapons charges stemming from a shootout with officers during his arrest in St. Paul later that day, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Patrick, 47, was a 19-year police veteran who left behind a wife and two children.

The trial was moved to Stearns County because of pretrial publicity in the Twin Cities area. The jury of five women and seven men was to be sequestered during deliberations.

Fitch directed a profane outburst at the judge after the verdicts were read, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reported. Then applause broke out as he was removed from the courtroom.

Fitch, who did not take the stand during his two-week trial, faces a life sentence under state law. Sentencing will be held later in Dakota County District Court.

Jury deliberations began around noon and ended around 9:30 p.m. with a break for dinner

During closing arguments earlier Monday, prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz told jurors that the totality of the evidence should lead them to a “reasonable and rational conclusion” that Fitch killed Patrick, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Fitch was on the run and had a warrant out for his arrest when Patrick pulled him over, Prokopowicz said. Fitch made good on a threat he told his girlfriend the night before: If a police officer stopped him, he was going to shoot, the prosecutor argued.

But Fitch’s attorney, Lauri Traub, attacked eyewitness descriptions of the killer, the timeline of events surrounding the shooting of Patrick and the gun evidence, according to the newspaper.

She also argued that his actions during his arrest fell short of the standard for attempted murder, the Pioneer Press reported.

Addressing members of the media after the verdicts, Patrick’s widow, Michelle, said: “I hope he can come to a realization of what he has done. He has taken so much from us.”


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