New trial for man convicted of fatal drive-by shooting

A man who was convicted of murder in a 2020 road rage incident in St. Paul will get a new trial after having his conviction overturned.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an opinion on Monday that will overturn Anthony Trifiletti’s second-degree murder conviction in the murder of Douglas Lewis. He was therefore to serve a sentence of 12 and a half years in prison, but this will be abandoned for a new trial.

The trial date has not yet been determined. A spokesperson for the Ramsey County District Attorney’s Office told Bring Me The News that a decision on the next steps in the case will be made “in the near future.”

Trifiletti, of Waterman, Minnesota, was found guilty on April 20, 2021 in the second attempt after his initial hearing ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

According to the Court of Appeals, Trifiletti and his lawyer filed a request for a mistrial alleging that the Sixth Amendment rights were violated, saying he was denied the right to confront an accuser at the April 2021 trial after a witness failed to appear in court due to possible exposure to COVID- 19.

Due to the witness’s absence from court, the state requested to read transcripts of the witness’s testimony or present his testimony remotely with video.

“Trifiletti objected to the state’s request, insisting that he has the right to experience a face-to-face confrontation and pointing out that the district court only received second-hand, self-reported information about the incident. ‘potential unavailability of these witnesses,’ the court documents state.

However, the witness’s statement was read to the jury during the trial.

The Court of Appeal said they agreed that Trifilett’s confrontation clause right has been violated, resulting in a new trial.

The Watertown man was originally charged with second-degree murder in the road rage shooting death of Douglas Lewis, 39, of St. Paul. The incident happened in May 2020 when the two men got into a fight after Trifiletti’s truck was hit from behind by Lewis’s vehicle on Highway 61 in St. Paul.

According to the charges, the two men stopped and started arguing. Trifiletti claimed he felt threatened when Lewis reached under his shirt during the confrontation. Trifiletti, who had a carry permit, drew his gun and fired several shots. A witness said the two men were about 10 feet apart when the shooting happened.

Lewis, who was later found to be unarmed, died at Regions Hospital.

Elna M. Lemons