A Minneapolis man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for fatally shooting a Burnsville man in the head during a drug deal in Inver Grove Heights last year.
Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, 44, will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 30 years for the killing of Bryant Jon Lutgens on Jan. 31, 2021. Lutgens was found dead in a snowbank the next day, his 39th birthday.
Last month, a Dakota County jury deliberated for about two hours before convicting Cruz of first-degree and second-degree murder. Those convicted of first-degree murder could face a life sentence without parole.
As part of the sentence, Dakota County District Judge Dania Edward ordered Cruz to pay restitution to Lutgens’ family for the funeral, headstone and burial expenses.
Three co-defendants await sentencings for their roles in the killing: Jason Richard Beck, 42, of Eden Prairie, Kyle Michael Reagan, 33, of Edina, and Ryan Edward Whitman, 39, of Richfield.
Reagan was at the scene when Cruz pulled the trigger and helped him take Lutgens’ belongings from his car and carry them into Cruz’s apartment, according to a criminal complaint charging Reagan with aiding an offender (accomplice after the fact).
A witness said that Cruz had set up a meeting to buy methamphetamine from Lutgens, according to a complaint against Cruz.
A second witness told investigators that around 11:45 p.m., Cruz returned to his apartment with Reagan. She described Cruz as acting “off” and said he was talking very fast. When she asked Cruz what was wrong, he said he shot Lutgens.
According to the second witness, Cruz said he pulled out a gun and was going to rob Lutgens, but the two struggled over Lutgens’ backpack. Lutgens fell backward into a snowbank. Cruz said he then walked up to the Lutgens, shot him in the head, took his belongings and left.
Cruz and Reagan got into Lutgens’ vehicle and “ditched it” a few blocks from Cruz’s apartment after taking several items from it.
An autopsy confirmed that Lutgens died of a single gunshot wound to the head.