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Two suburban women involved in 2017 murder released early under revised Minnesota law

Two women who were convicted in the 2017 killing of a 19-year-old man during a botched robbery were released from prison last week - the first people to be resentenced under a new law that differentiates criminal sentences for major participants and those who played a lesser role in a murder.

In April 2018, a Hennepin County judge sentenced Briana Martinson of Prior Lake and Megan Cater of Lakeville each to 13½ years in prison for their part in the robbery-turned-murder of Corey Elder. Neither fired the gun that killed Elder. But in a plea deal with prosecutors that allowed them to avoid a potential life sentence, Martinson and Cater confessed to putting the robbery in motion in a plot to retrieve missing pills. Their anticipated release date was set for 2026, per Minnesota's sentencing guidelines.

Last fall, the DFL-controlled Legislature revised the law after a nonpartisan task force report called into question the fairness and "disregard for intent to harm" of Minnesota's murder doctrines. The 2021 report said Minnesota was rendering the same punishments to killers and lesser participants who "did not cause death, cause any injury to the deceased, nor intend for anyone to die."


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