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A Dakota County judge sentenced a 44-year-old Minneapolis man to life in prison on Tuesday for the murder of a Burnsville man in Inver Grove Heights last year. 

Bryant Lutgens, 39, of Burnsville, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a snowbank in Inver Grove Heights on Feb. 1, 2021

Last month, a jury convicted Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz of first-degree murder while committing aggravated robbery, also known as felony murder, and one count of second-degree intentional murder in Lutgens' death. 

According to charges, a witness told investigators she'd put Cruz and Lutgens in touch because she believed Lutgens possessed methamphetamine.

According to prosecutors, Cruz told others about shooting Lutgens during a robbery. Those witnesses later recounted the events to investigators. 

In the story told to authorities, Cruz pulled a gun out to rob Lutgens and Lutgens fell backwards into a snowbank while struggling with Cruz over his backpack. 

Cruz then shot Lutgens in the head, took his belongings and left, according to charges. 

A few days later, Cruz led police on a chase while driving a car that had been rented by Lutgens. During the pursuit, prosecutors said, he tossed the gun he used to kill Lutgens out of the vehicle.

Under the sentence by Judge Dania Edwards, Cruz could be eligible for parole after 30 years. 

Three other Twin Cities men are set to be sentenced later this summer for their roles in aiding Cruz — Jason Beck and Kyle Reagan are scheduled to be sentenced July 20. Ryan Whitman will be sentenced Aug. 3. 

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