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Plea changed to guilty in murder of Minnesota National Guard member

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A South St. Paul man pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering a Minnesota National Guard member in his sleep last summer. KSTP reports Aaron Allen also agreed to testify against Heather Horst in her murder trial. Prosecutors say Horst planned the killing of her husband, Brandon Horst, and convinced Allen to carry out the crime.

The Pioneer Press reports Allen testified in court Wednesday that he was abused as a child and that he "saw red" when Heather Horst described beatings from her husband that caused the deaths of two unborn children.

Allen testified that he wanted to put an end to the abuse when he killed Brandon Horst with a single bullet to the head in Horst's St. Paul home last Aug. 4. Allen learned during the subsequent criminal investigation that Heather Horst had not been pregnant, the Pioneer Press says.

The Star Tribune reports that attorneys prosecuting and defending Allen both cast him as an emotionally vulnerable man who was manipulated by Heather Horst into committing murder. Allen was engaged to Heather Horst's sister-in-law. The Star Tribune says he testified he's been diagnosed as being bi-polar and suffering from other disorders including post-traumatic stress.

A grand jury indicted Allen and Heather Horst on first-degree murder charges in September. Prosecutors argue Heather Horst was motivated by the prospect of collecting on two life insurance policies her husband held.

WCCO reports she stood to receive $480,000 as the sole beneficiary of the policies. One of the policies was issued to Brandon Horst by the military, the other through his work as a federal employee.

In return for pleading guilty to second-degree murder, the first-degree murder indictment against Allen will be dropped. WCCO says he has agreed to the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. A court date for Heather Horst has not been announced.

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