Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced that four individuals have been sentenced late today for their respective roles related to the death of 55-year-old Chris Lafontaine at his home in Greenvale Township in Dakota County between July 1 and July 2, 2021. Each sentence ordered by Judge Christopher Lehmann is outlined below:
Nicholas Alan Taylor, age 30 of St. Paul, Minnesota, pled guilty February 17, 2022 to one count of Murder in the Second Degree (Unintentional) (Aiding and Abetting) and was sentenced to 252 months in prison.
Timothy Tuit, age 36 of South St. Paul, Minnesota pled guilty December 1, 2021 to one count of Aiding an Offender (Accomplice After the Fact) and was sentenced to 92 months in prison.
Ryann Elizabeth Smith, age 23 of White Bear Lake, pled guilty March 1, 2022 to one added count of Assault in the First Degree (Aiding and Abetting) and was sentenced to 80 months in prison.
Stephanie Peabody, age 26 of Welch, Minnesota, pled guilty December 1, 2021 to one count of Aiding an Offender (Accomplice After the Fact) and was sentenced to a Stay of Execution of 69 months in prison, serve 335 days in jail, and was placed on probation for up to 10 years.
All four were ordered to pay restitution jointly in the amount of $31,259.32.
The following is a summary of the criminal complaints filed in this case:
On July 2, 2021, at approximately 4:45 p.m., Dakota County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a burglary in progress at a residence in Greenvale Township. The reporting party informed deputies that two males ran out of the residence when a neighbor knocked on the door to check on the homeowner, 55-year-old Chris Jon Lafontaine. Witnesses reported seeing two males run and get into a white Durango that was later confirmed to belong to the victim.
Deputies found the victim in a bathroom, deceased. The victim's hands and feet were bound together with several ligatures; and there was a rag and a glove over the victim's mouth held in place with a ligature tied around his head. An autopsy was performed, and the victim's death was determined to be an asphyxia type death.
Shortly after discovering the victim's body, Northfield police officers 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, Stephanie Peabody, and the front seat passenger, Timothy Tuit. The third occupant later identified as Nicholas Alan Taylor, fled on foot and was later apprehended in Montana along with Ryann Elizabeth Smith.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. Previous news releases can be viewed at County Attorney News Releases. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search.
Keena commented: “I am pleased that these four individuals are being held accountable for the respective roles they played in the senseless murder of Chris Lafontaine. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Mr. Lafontaine's family for their loss."
Keena thanked the Dakota County Sheriff's Office for their investigation of this case as well as the Northfield Police Department, the Dakota County Sheriff's Office Electronic Crimes Unit and numerous other agencies for their part in the apprehension of all suspects; and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office for their assistance in the investigation.
Keena also thanked Assistant Dakota County Attorneys Amy Schaffer and Connor Cremens, who prosecuted these cases. If you have questions, contact Monica Jensen at 651-438-4440.