4 people now charged in death of St. Paul mother Sarah Wierstad

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 (Photo: Sarah Anne Wierstad, Facebook)

A fourth person is now charged in connection with the shooting death of 24-year-old St. Paul mother Sarah Wierstad.

Michelle Koester, 42 of Minneapolis, is charged with three counts of aiding an offender in connection with Wierstad's death, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County.

Wierstad, mother to a 5-year-old daughter, was killed on Oct. 17 after coming home from work and apparently walking in on a robbery at her East Side apartment. A fund set up in Wierstad’s name has raised more than $25,000 so far. 

The charges against Koester accuse her of giving false information about a crime, receiving proceeds from the incident, and obstructing the investigation.

Three men have also been charged, all in Ramsey County District Court:

  • Albert McIntosh, 30, second-degree murder
  • Alvin Bell, 24, aiding and abetting second-degree murder (amended, the Star Tribune writes, from an initial charge of second-degree murder)
  • Isaiah Harper, 26, aggravated robbery and burglary

According to the criminal complaint, Koester originally told police she was not in St. Paul near Wierstad's home that night, but changed her story several times, first denying then later admitting she heard gunshots, and initially telling police she did not know where the other defendants got a credit card to pay for gas – but later confessed she'd been on robbery runs with McIntosh three prior times to get credit cards for gas purchases.

She told police she lied at first because she feared for her safety, according to the charges.

On the night of Wierstad's death, Koester said she was waiting outside in one of two vehicles at the scene when she heard a single shot, then saw Bell run around the corner toward the vehicles. At that point, she then heard additional shots, and saw McIntosh also come around the corner.

Harper was in a vehicle before any gunshots were heard.

Koester was convicted for aiding in a drive-by shooting nearly 20 years ago and spent 15 years in prison, the Pioneer Press reports. She was released from prison in 2013 and has been on supervised release since then, according to the newspaper.

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