Crime, Law and Justice

Fohrenkam sentenced to 38 years in killing of Deshaun Hill

Person in a courthouse
Cody Fohrenkam in the courtroom at the sentencing hearing for the murder of Deshaun Hill, on Tuesday.
Shari L. Gross | Star Tribune

Updated: 4:20 p.m.

A Hennepin County judge has sentenced the man convicted in the killing of Minneapolis high school student Deshaun Hill to more than 38 years.

Cody Fohrenkam's sentence is at the top of state guidelines.

A jury convicted Fohrenkam, 30, last month of shooting the 15-year-old in the back of the head after a brief exchange on a Minneapolis sidewalk a year ago.

At sentencing Tuesday, Judge Julie Allyn noted Fohrenkam's extensive felony record and what she called the senseless nature of the crime.

“All he did was walk by you,” Allyn said. “And as he’s walking away in broad daylight on a public street, you turned and you shot at him not once, but three times.”

People stand in front of an artistic rendering of a child
From left to right: William Walker, Tuesday Shepherd and Deshaun Hill Sr. at the sentencing hearing for the murder of Deshaun Hill on Tuesday.
Shari L. Gross | Star Tribune

Prosecutors said Fohrenkam grew increasingly angry after an unknown person punched him and stole his phone early on Feb. 9, 2020.

After Deshaun left North High around noon, Fohrenkam confronted him on a sidewalk and fired three shots.

One struck Deshaun in the back of his head while he was walking away wearing an orthopedic boot because of a broken foot.

Deshaun Hill Sr. said the loss of his son has devastated the family. Hill said his son had a promising future, was a honor roll student and had been offered multiple scholarships.

In court, Hill held back tears as he described how the murder has devastated his family, particularly Deshaun’s younger sisters.

“Her brother used to do TikToks with her. She can’t do a TikTok with her brother no more. He got another sister, she’s 11. She’s going down hill because he killed her brother.”

Hill said he’ll never again cheer for his son at his football and basketball games, will never help him get ready for prom, and won’t see him continue the family’s tradition of walking across the stage at North High’s graduation.

Chris Johnson, one of D-Hill’s coaches, said Fohrenkam caused incalculable pain not only to Hill’s family, but also to the wider community.

Students wear buttons with Deshaun Hill’s photo
Students wear buttons with Deshaun Hill’s photo on them reading “Rest in Power” in 2022 during the first North High School football game since 15-year-old Hill was killed in February.
Nicole Neri for MPR News/Nicole Neri

“He has a lot of friends, a lot of people, adults, kids his own age, younger kids who looked up to this young man,” Johnson said. “There’s little kids that walk around our neighborhood who say, ‘I want to be like D-Hill.’ Not Michael Jordan, not Kobe Bryant, not Tom Brady, ‘I want to be like D-Hill.’”

As the hearing drew to a close, Fohrenkam declined an opportunity to make a statement, but defense attorney Lisa Skrzeczkoski-Bzdusek spoke on his behalf and said her client reserves his right to appeal the jury’s verdict.

“He is still fighting for his innocence but he does give his condolences to Mr. Hill’s family.”

After the hearing, Deshaun’s mother, Tuesday Shepherd and family attorney William Walker said they’re pleased Allyn gave Fohrenkam the maximum sentence allowed, but they’re urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow for life sentences for adults who kill children.

"It should have been 800 months. It should have been life," Walker said. "Because when he gets out of jail, he'll still be old enough to be with his kids," Shepherd added.

Fohrenkam will be eligible for supervised release after serving around 24 years of his sentence in prison.

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