Men Indicted On Murder Charges

Men Indicted On Murder Charges Click to Enlarge Photo: Benton County Jail

(KNSI) - A Benton County grand jury has indicted three men for murder in connection with a suspected drug-related shooting in Sauk Rapids.

26-year-old Nokomis Lee Jefferson, 20-year-old Willie Demont White Jr. and 37-year-old Vance Diwayne Laster Sr. are each facing two counts of 1st degree murder, four counts of 2nd degree murder, 1st degree assault, 2nd degree arson and five counts of crimes committed for benefit of a gang.

All three men could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if they’re convicted of killing 25-year-old Joe Ditthideth, of St. Cloud, on February 16th.

Before the grand jury indictment, the men were facing two counts of 2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder, 1st degree assault and 2nd degree arson.

Police say 29-year-old Nathan Phrachomphonh, of Sauk Rapids, was wounded during the shooting.

According to the criminal complaint, the suspects and victims were at a bar together in St. Paul before the five drove back to the 3400 block of Old Creek Place in Sauk Rapids in Ditthideth's Mercedes Benz.

The complaint says a flash was seen and heard on video surveillance, followed by shouting.

Police say Ditthideth can be heard being asked where his drugs were at, and then, about a minute later, five more shots were fired.

The Mercedes Benz was seen leaving the area, according to the complaint.

Around 3:30 that morning, White and Jefferson allegedly were seen on video surveillance putting gas in a gas can at a SuperAmerica on Highway 10 in southeast St. Cloud.

About 10 minutes later, firefighters responded to a car fire in the 400 block of 5th Avenue SE.

Investigators say the car on fire was Ditthideth’s Mercedes, and that cell phones belonging to White and Laster were found in the burned out vehicle.

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