- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BUFFALO, Minn. (AP) - Prosecutors charged three men Wednesday in the death of a 19-year-old woman who was found shot outside a central Minnesota park last week.

Shawn Benson, 21, was charged in Wright County with second-degree intentional murder. Benson, of Buffalo, is accused of fatally shooting Cheyenne Clough, who had a 3-year-old son, on June 1 at the entrance to Crow Springs County Park.

Two other men - Justin Jensen, 28, of Maple Lake and Edward Zelko, 26, of Buffalo - are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Bail for each was set at $1 million with conditions, and they remained in jail. They hadn’t been assigned public defenders yet, Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly said.

Prosecutors allege that Clough, who was also from Buffalo, argued with the others in Benson’s home about someone snitching on her boyfriend, who was wanted on a drug warrant, the Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1rdrio1 ). Clough thought she was being driven home when she was taken to the park and shot several times. She died at a hospital.

Benson and Jensen were arrested in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border. Zelko was arrested after a traffic stop in Staples. He told law enforcement that he was returning from the International Falls area, prosecutors said.

Two women were arrested with Benson and Jensen, but they wouldn’t be charged in Clough’s death because “they were just accompanying (the others) as they were fleeing” to northern Minnesota, Assistant County Attorney Brian Lutes said.

A 26-year-old man, Thomas Nicholson, appeared in Koochiching County court Tuesday on a felony charge of aiding an offender to avoid arrest. He is accused of helping the suspects in Clough’s death after they left the Twin Cities area. Nicholson was arrested Sunday near International Falls, where he lives, police said.

Emergency responders found Clough facedown on the park’s paved drive with gunshot wounds to the back of her head and to her shoulder and neck, according to court documents.

Kelly said the gun hasn’t been found and that he plans to convene a grand jury to consider first-degree murder charges.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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