ST. PAUL, MINN. — A South St. Paul man pleaded guilty Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a National Guardsman, but told the judge that the guardsman’s wife concocted the murder plan and convinced him that she was being abused by her husband.
Aaron Allen, 25, pleaded guilty in Ramsey County District Court to second-degree intentional murder in the death of Staff Sgt. Brandon Horst. Allen agreed to a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, and other murder charges are expected be dropped at his sentencing next month, the Star Tribune reported.
Allen believed that Horst’s wife, Heather, had miscarried three times because of abuse by her husband. But during his plea hearing, prosecutors said she was never pregnant and never miscarried. Allen testified that the revelations were part of his motivation to plead guilty.
“One, things need to be set right. I feel, I feel that his family deserves justice. I am guilty,” Allen said when asked why he was pleading guilty by Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Karen Kugler.
Allen admitted to firing a single shot into Brandon Horst’s head on Aug. 5 as he slept in his home on St. Paul’s West Side.
Heather Horst, 25, is charged with first-degree and second-degree murder in her husband’s death. She has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.
The prosecution’s case against Heather Horst hinges on an affair she was allegedly having with another man at the time, and her interest in her 25-year-old husband’s $400,000 military life insurance policy and a $80,000 life insurance policy from the federal government stemming from his position as a federal technician. She was the sole beneficiary of both policies.
Allen testified during the hearing that Heather Horst knew he had been abused as a child. He said her allegations of spousal abuse deeply affected him because he witnessed his mother being abused and thrown down stairs when he was a child.
Allen testified that he repeatedly urged Heather Horst to leave her husband and call police. He said she told him she couldn’t leave because she would lose everything and thought police wouldn’t do anything because her husband served in the military.
Allen said he and Heather Horst eventually hatched a plan consisting of Allen and two friends ambushing her husband and home, to make it look like a burglary, but that his friends later backed out. He said that Heather Horst and his fiancee picked him up after the shooting, and that Heather Horst “asked me how many rounds I put in Brandon.”
Under questioning by his attorney, Allen also said he has suffered from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, and received inpatient psychological care about a dozen times since he was a teenager.