Two people have pled guilty to aiding an offender in connection with the death of 55-year-old Chris Lafontaine at his home in Greenvale Township between July 1 and 2, 2021, Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced Wednesday.
Timothy Tuit, age 36 of South St. Paul, and Stephanie Marie
Peabody, age 25 of Welch, both pled guilty for aiding in the burglary and death of Lafontaine.
According to the Dakota County criminal complaint, Dakota County Sheriff's deputies responded to a burglary on July, 2 after it was reported that four people had fled Lafontaine's residence when a neighbor knocked on his door.
When deputies entered the residence to check on Lafontaine they found him in a bathroom, deceased with his hands and feet bound together with cables.
An autopsy was conducted and the victim's death was determined to be an asphyxial type death.
According the the report, three of the suspects fled in a white Durango that belonged to Lafontaine.
Northfield police officers later located the victim's Durango and after initiating a traffic stop, the Durango fled. Eventually the vehicle stopped and all three occupants fled into a wooded area.
Officers ultimately apprehended the driver, Peabody, and the front seat passenger, Tuit.
The third occupant later identified as Nicholas Taylor, fled on foot and was later apprehended in Montana along with Ryann Smith, who were both charged with second-degree murder back in July.
Peabody explained in the investigation that she was Tuit's girlfriend and he and Taylor were brothers.
In the investigation, Smith and Taylor admitted to tying up a man and hitting him in the head with a flashlight.
Video footage from the victim's home shows Taylor, Smith and the victim together in the residence in the early morning hours of July 1.
“We are pleased that both Mr. Tuit and Ms. Peabody have taken responsibility for their respective roles in the senseless death of Mr. Lafontaine," Keena said. "Our deepest sympathy is extended to Mr. Lafontaine’s family for their loss.”
Judge Christopher Lehmann ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set
the sentencing date for May 11, 2022 at 9 a.m. in Hastings, for both Tuit and Peabody.
The jury trial for Smith is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2022 and the jury trial for Taylor is scheduled for April 25, 2022 in Hastings.