Man who shot law clerk dead in St. Paul gets life without parole

A man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally shot a St. Paul law clerk after he couldn't get a hold of his lawyer.
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The man who shot and killed a law clerk that worked for his lawyer in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Ryan David Petersen, 37, of St. Paul, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being found guilty in the death of 23-year-old Chase Passauer., the Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced.

Prosecutors said Petersen had become disgruntled with his lawyer Dan Adkins – who Passauer worked for – and decided to take action when the lawyer wasn't responding to his calls or text messages on the morning of April 7.

During the trial, Petersen admitted that he was ineligible to possess a gun; that he fired the handgun eight times – striking Passauer on each occasion; that he'd sent a text stating he'd killed his lawyer; and that he threw the gun in a northern Wisconsin lake.

Petersen has been convicted of two murder charges – one first-degree premeditated, and a second-degree charge.

He's also been charged for having a firearm when he wasn't eligible to.

"We are very pleased with the judge’s ruling against the defendant who so brutally took the life of a promising young man," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in a news release. "I want to thank the prosecution team as well as the St. Paul Police investigators for their hard work to bring justice to the victim’s family, friends and our community."

Initially, the 37-year-old was just charged with second-degree murder in the death of Passauer.

But Petersen's charged were upped and he was indicted by a grand jury on three counts earlier this year, including premeditated first-degree murder – which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

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