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Widow found guilty in Minn. guardsman's death

May. 27, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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ST. PAUL, MINN. — The widow of a slain Minnesota National Guardsman was convicted Tuesday of helping plan his killing last summer.

A Ramsey County jury convicted Heather Horst, 25, of aiding and abetting first-degree murder, aiding and abetting second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the death of her husband, 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Brandon Horst, The Star Tribune reports. She was immediately sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

Brandon Horst was shot once through his right eye while sleeping in his St. Paul home on Aug. 5.

Prosecutors said Heather Horst used claims of abuse to convince Aaron Allen, of South St. Paul, to shoot her husband. Allen has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

During closing arguments, assistant Ramsey County Attorney Karen Kugler told jurors that "her selfishness and her greed" led Heather Horst to manipulate Allen into carrying out the "cold-blood execution." Horst was the sole beneficiary of her husband's $488,000 life insurance policy, and she offered Allen $100,000 to kill her husband, Kugler said.

Defense attorney Deborah Ellis argued that Allen acted on his own.

"This is a man who is cold and calculating," Ellis told jurors.

But Kugler told jurors that Horst lied to Allen and others, saying that her husband abused her, causing her to miscarry multiple times when she never was pregnant. Allen, 26, was a victim of childhood abuse, and felt compelled to kill Brandon Horst when Heather Horst burst into Allen's apartment on Aug. 4 and announced that her husband had killed another baby, Kugler said.

That was the same day Brandon Horst and his wife had gotten into a "horrendous" argument, and he told her that he was "done" with their marriage, Kugler said.

Heather Horst drove Allen to her home at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 4, let him in and showed him her pistol, Kugler said. Allen then waited in the basement before creeping upstairs and shooting Brandon Horst shortly after midnight.

Allen, who was a key witness for the prosecution, initially lied to police, told authorities his memory of the murder disappeared and then resurfaced, and said he had multiple personalities.

While Allen was waiting in the basement, Heather Horst tried to craft an alibi by shopping at Walgreens with Allen's fiancee, Kugler said. Surveillance video showed the two leaving the drug store parking lot about 12:37 a.m., two minutes after Allen texted Heather Horst with the word "Done."

Kugler told jurors that Horst then picked up Allen and drove to a dog park where he threw the gun in the Mississippi River. She then dropped him off at his apartment and returned home, where she called 911, referring to her husband not by name, but as "the body."

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