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Convictions reversed in murder trial over Minneapolis real estate agent, court rules

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the murder and kidnapping convictions of a former probation officer who was sentenced to life without parole for her role in the death of a Minneapolis real estate agent.

The state's highest court ruled that Elsa Segura is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence to sustain convictions on two of the four charges, and that the trial judge gave the jury erroneous instructions about determining her criminal liability.

A jury in 2021 found Segura guilty of aiding and abetting premeditated first-degree murder in the New Year’s Eve 2019 killing of Monique Baugh. Prosecutors say Segura lured Baugh to a phony home showing in the Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove.

In the early hours of 2020, Baugh was found shot to death in a Minneapolis alley. Three other defendants were sentenced to life without parole in what prosecutors said was a scheme aimed at getting revenge against Baugh’s boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh, a recording artist who had a falling out with Lydon Wiggins, a former music business associate of his, who was also a drug dealer. Baugh’s boyfriend, who Wiggins allegedly considered a snitch, was also shot but survived.

The state Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of two of the other defendants earlier while its ruling on Wiggins, the alleged leader of the plot, remains pending.

“We realize that our opinion may result in another trial involving these difficult facts and intensify the grief of those affected by the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Baugh and her boyfriend," the ruling said. "Nevertheless, we are duty-bound to ensure that a defendant in a criminal trial is not convicted based on insufficient evidence or erroneous jury instructions that were not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Segura admitted during her trial that she set up the sham home showing. She testified that she thought she was helping Wiggins with his drug business. But she maintained that she did not know of any plan to kidnap and murder Baugh.

The majority said the evidence was sufficient to convict Segura of aiding and abetting in first-degree felony murder while committed a kidnapping, and to commit great bodily harm. But they said the evidence was not strong enough to convict her of aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder, or premeditated attempted murder.

It's reasonable to infer from the circumstances as a whole that Segura believed that the original goal of the plot was something less serious than premediated murder, perhaps a kidnapping and assault, the ruling said.

But the ruling said the trial judge's error in the jury instructions — misstating the law on the liability of accomplices — was serious enough that it could have affected the verdicts. So the high court threw out her convictions and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings on the remaining kidnapping and felony murder charges.