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St. Paul man charged with murder in Maplewood home invasion case

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A man has been charged with a fatal shooting during a home invasion in Maplewood last month – with police saying he was part of a burglary ring that targeted known marijuana dealers.

Justin Wright, a 31-year-old father-of-two, was asleep with his girlfriend at his home in the 2200 block of Hazel Street when he was awoken by an intruder. He was then shot in the chest when confronting him in the hallway.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced Friday that Brandon L. Cooper, 30, of St. Paul, has been charged with two counts of 2nd degree murder and will make his first appearance in court on Monday.

According to the criminal complaint, Cooper was allegedly tied to a burglary ring that had been carrying out residential burglaries and home invasions targeting people known to be selling marijuana.

Wright's girlfriend admitted to police she had told some of her customers that Wright kept "large quantities" of marijuana at his home.

An informant tipped police off about Cooper, saying he was responsible for the fatal home invasion and that he tossed the gun, his hoodie and his gloves as he fled the scene – items found by police nearby shortly after the killing.

Police managed to track down Cooper's phone number and using triangulation were able to find he was in the Maplewood area around the time of the killing, returning to St. Paul afterwards, while DNA found on the gun and clothing matched Cooper's profile.

Investigators placed a GPS tracking device on Cooper's wife's vehicle and used it to follow him this past Monday to a home in the 4700 block of Park Ave., Minneapolis, where they watched Cooper and an accomplice carry out another burglary.

Cooper was detained a short time later and the stolen items recovered. He declined to be interviewed after being read his Miranda rights.

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