St. Paul man who drove into Minneapolis protesters, killing 31-year-old, gets 20-year prison sentence

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Mug shot of Nicholas Kraus
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A St. Paul man who drove into peaceful protesters in Minneapolis, killing a 31-year-old, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday.

Nicholas Kraus (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Nicholas Kraus, 36, pleaded guilty last month to unintentional murder, along with assault.

On June 13, 2021, Kraus drove into a crowd of people in Uptown Minneapolis at Girard Avenue and Lake Street. Deona Marie Knajdek was fatally injured. She was attending a protest over the shooting of Winston Smith by deputies.

Kraus was intoxicated at the time of the crash, which injured two other people.

Victim impact statements from Knajdek’s mother and brother were read during Wednesday’s hearing.

Kraus also spoke, saying he felt he should have been the one to die and he wasn’t intending to kill anyone, according to his attorney, Butch Selman.

“Mr. Kraus was very remorseful in his statements,” Selman said.

On June 3, 2021, Winston Smith was shot by two deputies, one from Ramsey County and the other from Hennepin County, who were working as part of a U.S. Marshals Task Force. A prosecutor found their use of deadly force was justified.

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