No prison time for homeless St. Paul driver who killed man who stole from her

·3 min read

A 32-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to 180 days of work release for fatally hitting a man with her SUV in October after he allegedly stole from her and her boyfriend in St. Paul.

Landis Rachel Hill also must report to the Ramsey County Correctional Facility on the anniversary of Al Rakip Zaidi’s death and serve an additional 30 days of work release each of the next three years.

Ramsey County District Judge JaPaul Harris stayed a 57-month prison sentence for an eight-year period of supervised probation. The sentence was a downward departure from state guidelines.

Hill pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide on June 13 as part of a plea agreement that saw prosecutors dismiss a charge of unintentional second-degree murder.

Zaidi was found Oct. 5 at 10th and Broadway streets, near Regions Hospital. The St. Paul man had severe head trauma and died at the scene.

Police arrested Hill and her boyfriend, Christopher Dwayne Grayson, the same day on suspicion of murder after she reported Zaidi’s death. Ramsey County prosecutors charged Hill the next day but declined to charge Grayson.

Hill called police from the lobby of police headquarters around 3 a.m. Oct. 5. She reported that she and Grayson were sleeping in the back seat of the 2001 Ford Expedition they lived in near Eighth and Olive streets when a man opened the driver’s door and took a cellphone and cash that were on the front seat.

She said they yelled at him, and he asked them if they wanted to die before running away with the stolen items.

Grayson chased the man with a baseball bat, and Hill drove after him. She said she struck him with the vehicle near the entrance ramp to I-35E by Pine Street. Officers checked the area the couple described but didn’t find anything.

About an hour later, a truck driver reported finding Zaidi dead on the side of the road.

The couple returned to police headquarters later on Oct. 5 to meet with investigators. Hill said Grayson couldn’t catch Zaidi, so she followed him and struck Zaidi when she was traveling 40-50 mph, according to the criminal complaint.

“Hill yelled at the man to return their stuff,” the complaint said. “Hill said she is tired of people taking her stuff.”

Grayson told police he and Hill were robbed at the same location July 5.

Hill reported Zaidi’s leg was twitching when they left him. She was upset, but Grayson convinced her they needed to report it to police, so they drove to the nearby headquarters.

Grayson wasn’t charged because there was not sufficient evidence to prove that he aided and abetted Hill, a county attorney’s office spokesman said at the time.

Hill, who already has spent 45 days in jail, must begin serving the rest of her 180-day sentence Aug. 8.

According to court documents, Hill has been employed at a South Minneapolis butcher shop and deli since December 2021, working in food preparation or doing dishes. Several of Hill’s co-workers wrote the judge letters of support on her behalf.

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