$2M bail for suspect in gas station killing

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2014 8:48 PM
$2M bail for suspect in gas station killing

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man accused of killing his former boyfriend and business partner at a suburban Minneapolis gas station abandoned a suitcase that contained ammunition consistent with the bullets used in the slaying, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

The complaint was unsealed as Lyle "Ty" Hoffman made his first court appearance since his arrest Thursday, after a month on the run. Hoffman, 44, is charged with intentional second-degree murder in the Aug. 11 death of Kelly Phillips, 48, formerly an attorney and vice president for the medical device company Boston Scientific.

After a series of intense manhunts in several Minneapolis suburbs, Hoffman was caught in Shakopee. He appeared in court wearing a protective vest but no shirt and waved to his sister before being escorted from the courtroom. Bail was set at $2 million after a brief hearing, with Hoffman assigned a public defender.

Hoffman and Phillips were once in a romantic relationship and had continued working together for a time in a northeast Minneapolis nightclub they had opened together. But that relationship fractured, too, with Phillips — the owner of the bar — eventually firing Hoffman and evicting him from a nearby house that Phillips owned.

According to the complaint, investigators learned Hoffman sometimes used a downtown Minneapolis condominium where they found a suitcase that belonged to him. Inside, investigators found men's clothing, Hoffman's passport, prescription medication, an ammunition magazine and 13 rounds of ammunition that was the same caliber, type and brand as casings found at the shooting scene and in Phillips' body.

Authorities weren't sure how Hoffman eluded capture for a month even as several tips seemed to suggest he had remained in the area. Several massive searches were staged. He also was suspected of a bank robbery in Blaine on Aug. 30.

At a news conference, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said prosecutors continue to investigate the bank robbery and whether anyone helped Hoffman. He said additional charges are possible.