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Grand Jury indicts 2 teens in Hibbing homicide, 1 pleads guilty

HIBBING, MN — A Grand Jury has indicted two teens of first degree murder while another man accepted a plea deal after they allegedly conspired to kill an Aurora man on the Mesabi Trail in early January.

Bailey French, 17, and Deshon Bonnell, 18, were indicted by a Grand Jury this week in St. Louis County Court.

Meanwhile, a third defendant, Anthony Howson, 20, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder. He entered into a plea agreement with St. Louis County Attorney’s office.

According to the criminal complaint, 33-year-old Joshua Lavalley’s body was found on the Mesabi Trail, near Kerr, on January 6.

Court documents claim Lavalley attempted “unwanted sexual contact” with French in the days leading up to his death.

According to the criminal complaint, that alleged act angered Bonnell, Howson, and French. They allegedly took Lavalley to the trail, blindfolded, where his body was later found.

Howson allegedly stayed in the vehicle and told police he heard two shots.

Bonnell and the teen allegedly returned without Lavalley. According to court documents, Bonnell was also apparently holding a handgun.

Bonnell and French are scheduled to appear in a Hibbing courtroom Thursday morning.

Howson’s next court date is set for April.

Bonnell is still undergoing a mental competency exam related to his original charges of murder, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. All court proceedings connected to those charges had been put on hold during that evaluation. However, according to Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Bonnie Thayer, because the Grand Jury indictment is considered a new charge, Bonnell is able to appear in court on the new first-degree murder charge.

Since French is a juvenile, she was scheduled to appear in court this week to learn if she would be tried as an adult. Thayer said the Grand Jury indictment automatically brings her case into adult court.

French was being held in a juvenile detention center, but Thayer expects she will be transferred to St. Louis County Jail after Thursday’s court proceedings.

Briggs LeSavage

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