New charges filed in 15-year-old murder case

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New evidence and a second look at an old DNA sample have led to an arrest and new charges in a shooting death from 15 years ago.

The Pioneer Press reports that Earl Vang, 32, of St. Paul was indicted on first degree murder charges in the murder of a man in a dispute over a $60 marijuana purchase. Vang was charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court with eight felony counts in the 1999 shooting death of Miguel McElroy and the wounding of McElroy's father, Curtis Campbell. The shooting occurred outside a grocery store near 24th Street and Lyndale Avenue.

Tou Lu Yang, 39, had already been convicted for McElroy's death, but after a new trial was ordered for him last summer, new evidence linked Earl Vang to the case and allowed Minneapolis police and Hennepin County prosecutors to reopen the case. WCCO reported that DNA collected at the time of the incident was recently was analyzed with updated procedures.

“DNA left in 1999 which could not be tested, because the amount was small, can be tested today,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

According to MPR News, police said Vang and Yang shot McElroy, 19, after a drug deal went bad.

Prosecutors charged Vang two weeks ago on two counts of second-degree murder. But Freeman said Friday that new evidence presented to a grand jury led to the first-degree murder charges against him. They also filed first-degree murder charges against Yang.

Earl Vang was arrested and released from the Hennepin County jail Thursday after posting a $200,000 bond. If convicted, he likely will be sentenced to life in prison.

Vang's attorney, Earl Gray, indicated that Vang will plead not guilty in court next week.

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