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Hastings, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a Burnsville man during a robbery last year.

The body of 38-year-old Bryant Lutgens was found in a snow bank in Inver Grove Heights on February 1, 2021. He died from a gunshot wound to his head.

Inver Grove Heights Police Dept. photo
Inver Grove Heights Police Dept. photo

Investigators later determined he had left a friend's home in Bloomington the previous night in a rental Jeep. A tracking system used by the rental company located the stolen Jeep Minneapolis and after a short chase, 44-year-old Gabriel Cruz was arrested. The criminal complaint noted police recovered a gun that was thrown from the vehicle during the pursuit and it was later determined it was the same caliber as the murder weapon.

A witness in the case later informed investigators that Cruz told her he tried to rob Lutgen at gunpoint but the two men got into a struggle that ended when the victim fell into a snow bank. The witness stated that Cruz indicated he then shot the man in the head before stealing his belongings.

A jury in Dakota County convicted Cruz of first and second-degree murder charges during the trial that ended June 29th. Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena says it took the jurors about two hours to reach the guilty verdict.

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