Melissa Zielinski was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the violent robbery and fatal shooting of 22-year-old Karl Henderson.
A judge handed down the life sentence to the 48-year-old Zielinski on Wednesday, though it comes with the possibility of parole. A jury convicted her in January of aiding and abetting first-degree intentional murder while committing aggravated robbery.
She and her brother Nicholas Zielinski, who was also sentenced Wednesday, were accused of killing Henderson in August 2020, during what authorities said was a robbery-gone-wrong at a Lino Lakes home.
Authorities said that although her brother fired the weapon, it was Melissa Zielinski who "planned and orchestrated" the robbery.
Nicholas Zielinski received a sentence of 18 3/4 years in prison with credit for 571 days served. He opted to plead guilty to second-degree murder rather than going to trial, and testified during his sister's trial.
He will be headed to St. Cloud Correctional Facility, while she is being sent to the prison in Shakopee.
Nicholas Zielinski testified he and Melissa Zielinski planned to rob the victim at gunpoint. During the robbery Henderson broke out of restraints Melissa Zielinski had placed on him. Henderson went for Nicholas Zielinski's gun, and Nicholas Zielinski fired two shots, with one bullet hitting Henderson in the chest.
The victim's father arrived home from grocery shopping the day of the murder to find the Zielinskis, whom he did not know, in his kitchen. When he asked who they were and why they were there, the man told him, "Your son stole on me,” and, “I’ll take you out, too.” The pair then left and drove off in a black SUV, after which Henderson's father found his son face-down in a pool of blood in his bedroom.
First responders soon arrived but declared the younger Henderson dead at the scene.
Police ultimately tracked down the Zielinskis with the help of neighborhood doorbell cameras as well as DNA evidence from the handgun left at the scene, the charges say.