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Charges: Upset over ongoing parking dispute, St. Paul man fatally stabs SUV owner during scuffle

The suspect said he was upset about neighbors and their friends regularly parking on his property.
Kjellberg booking photo crop

Prosecutors allege a St. Paul man, angry over a yearslong parking battle on his property, used a sharpened steel pipe to fatally stab a vehicle owner trying to get to their SUV.

Brian H. Kjellberg was charged Friday with second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 2 incident on the 1700 block of Seventh Street East. Authorities identified the victim as 27-year-old Arnell J. Stewart, from Georgia. 

Charges against the 50-year-old Kjellberg say Stewart suffered a puncture wound to his chest that hit his heart. He was in critical condition at the scene, and later died on the operating table at Regions Hospital, police said. 

Kjellberg told investigators Stewart came on to his property despite being told to stop, then punched Kjellberg multiple times in the face. That's when he pulled the sharp weapon from his pocket and stabbed Stewart, according to the charges.

Stewart's death was the 35th homicide of the year in St. Paul, a record high. The previous mark of 34 occurred in 1992. 

What the charges allege

Here's what prosecutors say happened:

Kjellberg called 911 himself at about 7:50 p.m. on Dec. 2, saying someone had tried to take their own car, but that Kjellberg wouldn't let them. They got in a fight, with that man punching Kjellberg in the face multiple time, then fleeing to a nearby house.

As police were responding, another 911 call came in from a nearby home, saying a man had been stabbed. Officers arrived to find Stewart in the living room, barely conscious and with a puncture hole to his upper chest, near his heart. A witness said Stewart had been out by his vehicle with another person, then ran back to the home and said he had been stabbed. 

Kjellberg spoke with officers and investigators multiple times, recounting his version of events. 

He'd purchased the property seven years ago, and for most of that time had dealt with neighbors and their visitors parking on his property off the alley. He'd put up multiple signs saying "No parking," "No trespassing" and "Private property," yet it continued to happen.

The night of the stabbing, Kjellberg told authorities he saw a Mercedes SUV get parked on his property. He waited 10-20 minutes, and when nobody came to get it, he called the non-emergency police number to ask it be ticketed, as well as a towing company to have the vehicle taken away.

He then saw a man, Stewart, approach. Kjellberg told Stewart not to come on his property, but Stewart continued, then punched Kjellberg several times. Kjellberg told investigators he suffered a traumatic brain injury two years earlier, and after being punched was scared for his safety. So in response, he pulled out a sharpened, 1/4-inch piece of stainless steel pipe from his coat pocket and stabbed Stewart in the stomach.

Stewart punched him one more time, knocking him to the ground and causing him to drop the weapon, then ran off, Kjellberg told police.

Officers said they recovered a metal tube with a black plastic handle from a pile of rocks near the scene of the incident, and noticed possible bruising on Kjellberg's face.

When asked why he didn't just let Stewart get his SUV, Kjellberg said he wanted the SUV to be ticketed and towed in hopes it would stop neighbors from parking on his property.

Kjellberg made his first court appearance Monday. He has an omnibus hearing scheduled for Jan. 3 at 2 p.m.

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