A man authorities say was trying to steal a bottle of vodka from a St. Paul liquor store now faces criminal charges, and is accused of fatally shooting a customer that tried to stop him.
Trinis Derrell Edwards, 49, of St. Paul, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection to the killing of 44-year-old Kenneth L. Davis Jr. at Big Discount Liquor on Dec. 27, 2021.
Charges say Davis was trying to stop Edwards from stealing a bottle of vodka from the liquor store and they got into a fight, which continued outside. During the altercation, Davis dropped his gun but Edwards grabbed it and shot Davis twice, prosecutors say.
Edwards made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
According to the criminal complaint:
At 9:50 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2021, police responded to Big Discount Liquor, 945 Rice St., to find people providing aid to Davis as he lay on the ground in the parking lot of the strip mall.
Davis had been shot in the chest and was taken to the hospital, where he died at 2:25 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2021. The medical examiner ruled he died of a exsanguination due to distant gunshot wound to the abdomen.
A liquor store employee said the shooter, later identified as Edwards, took liquor from the store and Davis was trying to stop him. Another employee said Davis was a reqular customer who was protective of the store, and the shooter had been in the store but didn't have enough money to pay for his purchase.
Davis confronted the shooter about concealing a bottle of vodka without paying for it, an employee said, and he took the stolen bottle from Edwards.
Edwards said he had a gun and he began to dig in his backpack. Davis then said he had a "license" and briefly displayed a handgun.
Edwards took a swing at Davis and they tussled out the door. The struggle continued outside and Davis' gun fell to the ground after Edwards pushed him. Then, Edwards picked up the gun and shot Davis twice.
A store employee yelled everything was on camera and Edwards fled on foot.
A woman who had been with Edwards at the liquor store but fled at the start of the altercation told police she was homeless and had been drinking when she met Edwards. They went on the search for more alcohol, getting on a bus and heading to Big Discount Liquor.
Police identified the shooter as Edwards. And surveillance video from the store showed Davis try to get Edwards to leave the store multiple times, and then Edwards digging in his backpack. Davis then briefly displayed his gun.
Edwards and Davis then went to the sidewalk outside the store, where Edwards appears to threaten Davis with pepper spray, video showed. They then got into a heated exchange and Edwards grabbed Davis' shoulders. Davis tried to take his gun out of his jacket while wrestling with Edwards, but the gun fell to the ground.
When Davis reached for the gun, Edwards pushed Davis away and into the parking lot. Edwards then picked up the gun. Davis moved toward Edwards and Edwards shot him twice, the video showed.
Edwards was staying at the Motel 6 on 1739 Old Hudson Road in St. Paul with his girlfriend (not the same woman who was with him at the liquor store). Police went to search the room and the girlfriend followed officers' instructions and left the room while Edwards barricaded himself in the bathroom. Police forced the door open and deployed pepperballs to take him into custody.
He was booked into jail at 10:51 p.m. on Jan. 1, jail records show.
Police recovered the backpack Edwards had in the liquor store, as well as two empty Taaka Vodka bottles from the hotel room.
The girlfriend told police they met about five years ago and had been engaged at one point. Edwards went to prison for assaulting her but then talked his way back into her life. They moved to Florida together but her sons flew her back to Minnesota because Edwards continued to assault her.
In August 2021, the girlfriend flew Edwards back to Minnesota after he became homeless. They continued their relationship upon his return to Minnesota.
She identified Edwards in photos from the liquor store and said he told her he'd shot someone in self defense. She said she thought Edwards was bluffing about the shooting until she saw an article about the shooting.
On Dec. 31, 2021, Edwards went to his girlfriend's apartment and they took a Lyft to the Motel 6. Edwards got drunk and said, "I don't know why you want to be around a murderer." He also said he didn't want to go back to prison and said he spoke of suicide by cop.
Edwards declined to speak to police. His criminal history includes 14 prior felony convictions dating back to 1991.