Jury finds Weiland guilty of all counts in Shady Oaks shooting
Published 1:51 pm Monday, September 19, 2022
After about 2 1/2 hours of deliberations, a 12-member jury on Monday found Devin Weiland guilty on all counts against him tied to the shooting of three people during an eight-hour standoff in November 2020 at Shady Oaks apartments.
Judge Christy Hormann read the verdict aloud in front of a mostly full courtroom, including about a dozen Albert Lea Police Department officers and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies, one of the victims, and family members of both Weiland and victims in the case.
Weiland faced three counts of attempted first-degree murder — one involving attempted murder of a peace officer and two other counts involving premeditation — along with three counts of second-degree assault.
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“It’s surely been a long event process for our department and the individuals directly involved and the department as a whole,” said Albert Lea Public Safety Director J.D. Carlson after the verdict was announced. “We’re a step closer to closure — but we’ve got quite a ways yet.”
Carlson said he was grateful for the jury’s verdict and thankful for all of the police officers, firefighters and attorneys who worked hard on the case. The standoff and shooting brought in law enforcement officers from across the state, including the Minnesota State Patrol, multiple SWAT teams and others.
He recognized that the case, however, is not over as the team prepares victim impact statements for sentencing.
After reading the verdict, Hormann ordered a pre-sentence investigation ahead of the sentencing, which is slated for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 19.
After Hormann announced the next step in the case, Weiland said he planned to take the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and noted he felt the case had been fraudulent in some ways.
Weiland’s lawyers declined to comment on the outcome or about Weiland’s statements in court.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement Monday evening on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office regarding the verdict.
“Weiland’s attempted murder of a police officer and two innocent bystanders is reprehensible, and the jury’s verdict was just and proper,” Ellison said. “I commend the jury for their hard work and the attorneys in my office for successfully pursuing justice. Above all, my thoughts today are with to the victims of this crime — first and foremost, Officer Needham and those who were injured and their family members. My thoughts also go out to all the members of the Albert Lea Police Department and the entire community of Albert Lea. We rely on police to step into dangerous situations like this one was and try to resolve them as peacefully as possible, and they deserve our thanks for it.”
The verdict came after about a week of testimony and another week of jury selection in the case.
Daniel Vlieger with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office during closing arguments walked the jurors back through the sequence of events that took place throughout the standoff on Nov. 29, 2020.
He said Weiland called 911 at about 2:17 a.m. to report fireworks or gunshots in the area of Shady Oaks in the early morning of Nov. 29, 2020. When former Albert Lea Police Department Officer Kody Needham arrived on scene at 2:20 a.m., he was shot in his squad car in the parking lot and injured. Vlieger said three rounds went into the roof of Needham’s car, one into the driver door and a fifth went in through his open window.
Two others were also injured during the standoff, the first a man who lived at the apartments who went outside to check on his vehicle 10 minutes after Needham was shot, and the second a man who drove by the complex on his way to work about three hours into the standoff.
In between, more shots were fired as additional agencies arrived to assist.
After failed negotiations, a team deployed tear gas at about 9 a.m. into Weiland’s apartment, and immediately following, Weiland fired shots at the armored vehicle the team was riding in and then fired seven rounds out his apartment door and across the hallway into another apartment.
A sniper fired his gun one time at Weiland from a townhome across the street after he said Weiland tried to shoot at another team of snipers. Weiland received an injury to his head, and at 10:48 a.m. he surrendered.
“The defendant’s actions changed lives,” Vlieger said.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents who processed the scene found more than 80 casings in the apartment and in the area below his apartment outside.
Vlieger said Weiland admitted during an interview with a BCA agent that he called police. He said he “just snapped” and was worried law enforcement would take his guns away. He also admitted to firing at the third victim and said he thought it was an officer.
The prosecutor said though Weiland is presumed innocent, he is not presumed truthful in his statements. He pointed out several inconsistencies in Weiland’s statements to authorities and pointed out that he remembered some details clearly but didn’t remember or minimized other details from the incident.
The defense argued Weiland did not intend to kill anyone but instead was trying to be shot and killed by officers.
Attorney Krista Rissman said the jurors should have reasonable doubt after listening to Weiland’s interview with the BCA agent and in conversations recorded on a body-worn camera with an Albert Lea police officer that were admitted as evidence during the trial. She asked if it was only reasonable to come to the conclusion that Weiland had intent to kill that day.
She said Weiland wanted to die but was too cowardly to do it himself and that the easiest way to get somebody else to do it for him was to get the police there that day.
“It’s cowardly, reprehensible, it’s awful, but it’s not attempted murder,” Rissman said. “It’s not intent to kill.”