Man struck, killed couple that ‘freaked him out’

Photo: AP

A Minnesota man told investigators that a married couple “freaked him out” before running them over in a minivan, just one day after being kicked out of an apartment by his family, according to a criminal complaint Monday charging him with second-degree murder.

Prosecutors in Dakota County said 36-year-old Jonna Kojo Armartey fatally struck 58-year-old Diane Peterson and 74-year-old Roger Peterson of the Twin Cities suburb Eagan last Thursday as they were walking near a strip mall. Police said they found Diane and Roger Peterson struggling to breathe, and they later died after being taken to the hospital.

Police arrested Armartey several hours later at an Apple Valley hotel roughly six miles away after he abandoned the minivan.

“This was not an accident,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement announcing the charges. “The victims in this case appear to have been targeted by the defendant, the reasons for which are unknown at this time.”

Diane and Roger Peterson had been married for more than 37 years and were on their typical walking route the evening they died.

A family member told The Associated Press that the family was mourning on Monday. A memorial service at the couple’s church is scheduled for later this month.

Armartey allegedly told investigators the couple “freaked him out,” so he ran over them “going fast and hit them hard,” according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities said Armartey and the Petersons did not know each other.

Court records show that Armartey was on probation for three prior felonies at the time of the incident for convictions that included assaulting a correctional officer and a psychiatrist. He was also civilly committed from June 2016 to December 2017 after a psychologist deemed he wasn’t mentally competent to proceed in one of the assault cases.

The criminal complaint said Armartey had a dispute with his family at an apartment in Eagan the day before the Petersons were hit, with Armartey thrown out of the apartment.

Armartey’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment on his behalf Monday.

He remained in county jail on bail set at $1.5 million. His next court appearance is July 12.

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