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Transgender suspect Chrishaun McDonald didn't kill Dean Schmitz, witnesses claim

Just after midnight on June 5, two groups of strangers began shouting at each other outside Schooner Tavern in south Minneapolis.

A brawl broke out, and when it was over, Dean Schmitz, 47, lay in the street bleeding to death.

Chrishaun McDonald, 23, was arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder. 

But two witnesses there that night claim police have the wrong man, and that they have a taped confession from the real murderer that proves it.


The story McDonald's friends tell differs greatly from the complaint brought against McDonald by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. In the authorities' version, a witness outside the bar saw Schmitz pull McDonald out of the melee. Then Schmitz backed away and said, "You stabbed me," to which McDonald replied, "Yes, I did." 

Friends mourn Chishaun's death
Friends mourn Chishaun's death
Photo by Rebecca Lawrence

Larry Thomas, who was with McDonald the night of the incident, tells a different version of events. Thomas says a group began walking from McDonald's house to a nearby Cub Foods. As they walked, a group of smokers outside Schooner Tavern began shouting racial and homophobic slurs at them. McDonald confronted the group.

A woman hit McDonald in the face with a glass, and a fight broke out, Thomas says. When he saw McDonald bleeding from the face, Thomas pulled her out of the melee and the two of them ran off to Cub Foods.

Thomas says when he looked back, he saw another friend that had been with them that night, a man that he and others now identify as Schmitz's killer, running away from the scene.

Thomas and Zavawn Smith, who was also present that night, say their friend admitted to them that he had stabbed Schmitz. Thomas says the friend told them that Schmitz "ran up and fell on the scalpel." Smith says he recorded the confession on his cell phone, and still has the video.

Smith says the man who actually killed Schmitz has not been at any of the hearings, and didn't show up to the Gay Pride Parade last weekend.

"Seems like he's kind of hiding out and feels guilty," Smith says. "I would understand, being in a situation like this, because this is real. Someone died."

Minneapolis Police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said the police were not aware of a videotaped confession to the murder. He says the investigation is ongoing, and any new evidence that is brought forward will be investigated thoroughly.

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