Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Jonna Kojo Armartey, age 36 formerly of Eagan, has been charged* with two counts of Murder in the Second Degree (with intent) in connection with deliberately driving his vehicle and killing 58-year-old Diane Peterson and 74-year-old Roger Peterson on June 28, 2018, while they were walking in Eagan.
The allegations contained in the criminal complaint reflect the following:
Shortly before 10:00 p.m. on June 28th, Eagan police officers were dispatched to a parking lot on a report of two people in need of medical attention. When officers arrived they found both Diane and Roger Peterson struggling to breathe. Both were transported to Regions Hospital where they were pronounced dead. The injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma.
Witnesses at the scene provided statements that the Petersons had been struck by a silver van, which sped away from the scene. A short time later, Officers responded to a report that a mini-van matching this description was in a parking lot of a restaurant less than one mile from the initial scene. Officers observed a Dodge Caravan with front end damage and the majority of the windshield was cracked. Diane Peterson’s cell phone was found wedged under the passenger side windshield wiper. It was learned that the registered owner of the mini-van had sold it to the Defendant through a third party months earlier.
The Defendant was later located at a hotel in Apple Valley where he was arrested. In an interview, the Defendant stated he saw the Petersons and that they "freaked him out" so he ran them over "going fast and hit them hard". The Defendant and the Petersons were unknown to each other.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint, which is located online at: Criminal Complaint Search. While in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at: Inmate Search.
At the time of this incident, Armartey was on probation for three prior felony convictions for incidents which occurred in Dakota County (theft of a motor vehicle on March 1, 2016; assault in the 3rd degree of a correctional officer on March 26, 2016; and assault in the 4th degree of a psychiatrist on March 30, 2016). He was also civilly committed from June 9, 2016 to December 8, 2017 based upon a psychologist’s conclusion that he was not mentally competent to proceed in connection with the case involving the psychiatrist mentioned above.
Backstrom commented: "This was not an accident. The victims in this case appear to have been targeted by the Defendant, the reasons for which are unknown at this time."
Backstrom extended his sympathy on behalf of law enforcement to the family and friends of Diane and Roger Peterson for their great loss. Backstrom thanked the Eagan Police Department for their investigation of this case and the first responders for their assistance at the scene of this crash.
Armartey made his first appearance in court today and bail in the amount of $2,000,000 without conditions ($1,500,000 with conditions) was set by Dakota County District Court Judge Cynthia McCollum. Armartey’s next court appearance is set for July 12, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. in Hastings.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.