Shooting case draws guilty plea

A suspect in the October shooting pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder.

Greg Corradini

One of two suspects police arrested in conjunction with an October shooting at the Leaning Tower of Pizza restaurant pleaded guilty Friday in a Hennepin County court, according to officials in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Vilaysack Sirimanothay pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the shooting death of Edward Rajual Howard Reynolds, said Pete Cahill, a chief deputy attorney for Hennepin County.

Cahill said the attorney’s office made an agreement to give Sirimanothay a 12-year prison sentence if he pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder.

Sirimanothay was also charged with one count of second-degree intentional murder.

But Cahill said the attorney’s office didn’t try to pursue the other count of second-degree murder because the office thought the unintentional-murder count would be an appropriate conviction.

“The second count fit his role in the case as he describes it,” Cahill said.

If the judge sentences Sirimanothay to 12 years in prison, the intentional-murder count will be dismissed at the sentencing hearing May 2, Cahill said.

The other defendant in the case, Saroun Sareth, has also been charged with one count of second-degree intentional murder and one count of second-degree unintentional murder.

Cahill said both men were charged with intentional and unintentional murder because they allegedly acted together in the incident and witnesses are unsure whether Sareth or Sirimanothay fired the gun.

Based on Sirimanothay’s plea, Cahill said, the defense for Sareth requested a continuation of investigation into the case.

Cahill said he didn’t know when the case would resume.

Sirimanothay’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

The Oct. 16 shooting that left Reynolds dead happened in front of the Leaning Tower of Pizza, at 2501 University Ave. S.E.

The shooting occurred after an argument broke out between Reynolds, Sirimanothay and Sareth outside the restaurant.

Cahill couldn’t comment on how Sirimanothay’s plea will affect Sareth’s trial, he said.

Brett Stevens, Leaning Tower of Pizza general manager, said he had no comment about the plea.

University junior Derek Farder said the shooting incident was shocking.

“But it’s a city, and stuff like that happens everywhere,” Farder said.