Austin man sentenced to 32 years for killing woman who played around with a stun gun

An Austin man was sentenced Friday to more than 32 years in prison for shooting and killing a 20-year-old woman in her home in July 2021 after he warned her to stop playing around with a stun gun.

Me'darian L. Mcgruder, 29, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in February, along with one count each of manslaughter, possessing firearms as a violent felon and domestic assault. Law enforcement charged Mcgruder in August 2021 with killing 20-year-old Tyesha Gills, also of Austin, inside her home.

Mcgruder was arrested in October of that year.

Friday he was sentenced on one of the second-degree murder counts to 386 months in prison. He'll also concurrently serve a five-year sentence for the firearm possession charge.

According to the criminal complaint:

Officers dispatched to the home shortly before 2 a.m., July 31 found Gills in the living room with a gunshot wound to the chest. She was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead there.

The officers saw near a couch a bloodstained stun gun designed for self-defense.

A witness helped police identify the shooter as Mcgruder. The witness said they were all "laughing, joking and having a good time," the charges quoted her as saying.

At some point, Gills was zapping a stun gun while Mcgruder had his handgun out and said, "Stop playing with me before I shoot you," according to court records.

Gills kept activating the stun gun, prompting Mcgruder to warn her again before shooting her.

"You just really shot me," the witness said she heard Gills say.

Mcgruder later testified in court that his gun accidentally went off after he was shocked again, but Mower County Judge Jeffrey Kritzer in a written verdict found Mcgruder's testimony was not credible. Kritzer found Mcgruder had intended to shoot Gills after warning her, getting his gun out and chambering it.

The gun's distance, as well as the entrance and bullet path of Gills's wound "also show that Mr. Mcgruder held the gun at an angle with respect to Tyesha Gills' body, at the time he discharged it, that made the shooting highly likely to cause death," Kritzer wrote in February. "That is also credible evidence that Mr. Mcgruder not only intended to shoot Tyesha Gills, but intended to kill her."

McGruder's criminal history in Minnesota includes a conviction in January 2020 for second-degree assault in connection with brandishing a gun during a domestic incident in Austin.