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West St. Paul man sentenced after killing woman in front of 3 kids

The victim, 22-year-old Lauren Summer Koffi-n'guessan, died at the scene.
Steven Buford

A man who was arrested following the late-2020 slaying of a West St. Paul woman will spend more than 30 years behind bars.

Steven D. Buford, 22, was sentenced to 380 months in prison on Friday, having pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree (with intent) and first-degree attempted aggravated robbery.

He was arrested in September 2020 after the shooting death of 22-year-old Lauren Summer Koffi-n'guessan, also of West St. Paul. On the night of the incident, police were dispatched to a local apartment building on the report of a disturbance. Witnesses at the scene told them they had seen Buford "acting erratically" and arguing with the victim, a news release notes. 

As they investigated, the officers heard a gunshot and soon discovered Koffi-n'guessan lying on the ground with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. They also saw a man "later identified as Buford running through the parking lot."

According to prosecutors, the officers then heard a woman screaming. The sound led them to a woman — identified only as "Victim 2" in court documents — standing outside her car with two of her three sons, one an infant, the other seven years old.

Her eldest son, a 12-year-old, was inside the car with Buford. He was arrested "without incident."

"Following his arrest, officers asked Buford where the gun was located, and he told them it was in Victim 2’s car," the release says. "Officers located a snub nose revolver in the car."

Koffi-n'guessan died at the scene despite lifesaving efforts. There were no details on Buford's relationships with the young women. 

Buford pleaded guilty to the charges against him on November 9. He was also sentenced to 54 months on the robbery charge, which will be served concurrently with the murder sentence. 

“I am pleased that Mr. Buford has entered pleas of guilty for the commission of these violent crimes thereby sparing those victimized by his actions from having to endure the stressors of a trial," Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena said in a statement. "My deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Ms. Koffi-n’guessan.”

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