A River Falls man failed today (Thursday) to get his first-degree murder convictions reduced in the slayings of his ex-girlfriend and her lover in neighboring Minnesota.
The Minnesota Supreme Court said Steven Van Keuren, 48, cannot claim he acted in the heat-of-passion and therefore, it was correct not to give jurors the chance to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter.
The Supreme Court cited evidence that the September 2006 murders of Teri Lee, 38, and Tim Hawkinson, 47 were planned.
They said Van Keuren left a message with a friend saying he planned to kill Lee, and he cut her phone and cable lines before busting into her house in West Lakeland, Minn., with a loaded gun.
The slayings happened after Van Keuren was ordered not to have contact with Lee since he broke into her house earlier.
Lee was shot six times and Hawkinson three times. Lee's two daughters fled to a neighbor, while her two sons hid in a bedroom and were not hurt.
Van Keuren claimed he killed Lee in a fit of rage and shot Hawkinson accidentally while struggling with him. He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders.