It was half-past 5 p.m. on Saturday. The sun was already down, and Minneapolis police and emergency medical services had arrived outside a squarish, plaster-and-brick apartment building on Park Avenue, near Franklin Avenue. They soon found the reason they’d been called: a 45-year-old man sprawled, motionless, in his apartment.
Emergency services tried to revive him, but it didn’t take long to determine he was already dead. His throat was a mess -- the cartilage and bone beneath his chin broken, his face covered in blows.
While they were tending to the dead man, 28-year-old Nicholas Allan Young arrived on the scene. Young wasn’t looking so good, either. There was blood on his hands and head, and his left eye was surrounded by an angry-looking bruise. An officer asked what happened. He explained the dead man had punched him.
Later, during an interview with investigators, Young told his story -- why he’d fought with the man in the apartment, why that man was now dead. According to his account found in a complaint filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court, it was all because of a laptop.
Young bought himself the laptop about eight months ago. The victim had been a friend of his for years. Young gave the laptop to him under the agreement that he pay him monthly to use it -- like rent.
Saturday was the first of December. Young went to his friend’s apartment to collect his monthly payment, but his friend told him he didn’t have the money. Young told him to return the laptop. He wouldn’t.
One thing led to another, and, Young said, his friend punched him in the eye.
After that, it’s not so clear what happened. They were fighting, that much Young admitted, but he said at a certain point, he “blacked out.”
When he woke up, he said, he was lying next to his friend, who was out cold and unresponsive. Young tried to give him CPR. He told someone else to call 911, he said. Eventually, after an unsuccessful attempt to revive his friend, he left the room.
That’s around when another resident in the building says he caught sight of Young in the hallway. According to the witness, Young explained he “got into it” with his friend -- that he didn’t think the other man was breathing anymore, that he thought he might be in trouble. He told the witness to come with him to his friend’s apartment, where he placed two laptops in the witness’s arms. He said to “hold onto” them for him.
By the time Young came back to his friend’s apartment, bruised and bloody, but empty-handed, paramedics were on the scene, and his friend was being pronounced dead.
We can’t know which objects in our lives will play a role in our undoing. The car that will eventually slip off the road. The wire that will spit a stray spark onto the bed sheets. The phone that will die in a crucial moment. These two men probably had no idea as the laptop passed between them that one day, they would be exchanging blows over it. That one of them would die for it, and the other would go to jail for it.