Deshaun Hill Jr., known to friends and family as D. Hill., was an honor roll student, quarterback for the North High Polar Bears football team and so much more. At 15 years old, D. Hill was described as “the heart of the North community, a representation of what could be, what should be.”
On February 9, 2022, D. Hill was shot in broad daylight near a bus stop. That day, students had organized a walkout to Minneapolis City Hall, protesting the fatal Minneapolis police shooting of 22-year-old Amir Locke one week earlier, during a no-knock raid.
According to charges, Cory Fohrenkam, 30, was seen on surveillance video walking by D. Hill on a sidewalk, "close enough to possibly brush shoulders." As D. Hill continued walking in the opposite direction, Fohrenkam allegedly stopped, turned around and fired three shots, according to the charges. Hill was rushed to North Memorial Health Hospital where he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Yesterday, a jury convicted Fohrenkam of second-degree intentional murder and second-degree unintentional felony murder. He will be sentenced next month and faces up to 40 years in prison.
I noticed the same comments over and over again on my social media posts: Only 40 years? How is this unintentional? Why not first degree and life with no parole? I looked up the Minnesota statute around murder in the second degree. Here’s what I learned.
Unintentional murder in the second degree
After deliberating the case Thursday, the jury unanimously decided that Fohrenkam intended to shoot D. Hill but couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to kill the teen. That matches the state law standard for unintentional second degree murder, defined as an action that “causes the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim. The statute also says, anyone found “guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years.”
D. Hill memorialized in film and community
Right now, D. Hill and his teammates can be seen in “Boys in Blue”, a four-part docuseries spotlighting North Community High School and its football team as “the players come of age in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd.” The film crew was profiling the team at the time of D. Hill’s murder.
To honor D.Hill’s legacy, you can make a donation to the Deshaun Hill Jr Memorial Foundation which established a scholarship fund for graduating North Community High School seniors who will be entering a post-secondary or vocational program this Fall.