Harding High School fatal stabbing: 17-year-old pleads guilty to manslaughter as judge keeps case in juvenile court

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A 17-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally stabbing a fellow student in the hallway of their St. Paul high school earlier this year.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office originally charged Nosakhere Kazeem Holmes, who was 16 at the time of the stabbing, with unintentional second-degree murder in the death of Devin Denelle Edward Scott, 15. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Prosecutors filed a presumptive motion to have Holmes certified to stand trial as an adult.

In a presumptive certification hearing, the defense has to prove to the court by “clear and convincing evidence” why the case should not go to adult court. The court orders a study to gather background and information on the juvenile and help guide a judge in making a decision.

Ramsey County Judge JaPaul Harris denied the prosecution’s motion for adult certification on Oct. 17. Harris decided the case would be handled as extended jurisdiction juvenile, which means Holmes receives a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence could be imposed if he doesn’t meet conditions of the juvenile case from now until he’s 21.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office amended the juvenile petition against Holmes on Tuesday, adding a charge of manslaughter, which is what he pleaded guilty to.

The charge of first-degree manslaughter says Holmes intentionally caused Scott’s death “while in the heat of passion, provoked by such words or acts of another as would provoke a person of ordinary self-control under like circumstances.”

Harris imposed a prison sentence of eight years and seven months, which will be stayed until Holmes is 21. Holmes will be sent to the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Red Wing to complete programming at the juvenile residential facility. The correctional facility will determine how long he’ll stay; youth tend to complete the program in nine to 12 months, according to the county attorney’s office.

Holmes remains in custody at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center.

Court proceedings are scheduled to continue next week, when Harris will hear victim impact statements.

Fight ends in stabbing

Scott was a sophomore and it was his first day at that school.

The juvenile petition gave the following information:

On Feb. 10, police were called to Harding High School on East Sixth Street on a report of an assault of a student. School staff performed life-saving measures on Scott, followed by St. Paul fire paramedics. He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Surveillance video showed Scott and other students walking in the hallway, and then Scott and Holmes exchanged words. Holmes squared up to Scott and they began fighting. A student who’d been walking with Scott joined in, appearing to tackle Holmes to the ground. Scott moved in, throwing punches as Holmes tried to get off the ground. Both Scott and the other student were punching Holmes as he got to his feet.

Holmes was then seen advancing on Scott with a knife, as Scott backed away. An autopsy showed Scott was stabbed in the chest and abdomen.

Holmes told school security, “They jumped me – they jumped me,” the petition says.

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