Minneapolis man gets 15 years for stabbing death of Mounds View man


Stephen Edward Gooler
Stephen Edward Gooler

A 51-year-old Minneapolis man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the stabbing death of 49-year-old Mounds View resident Perry David Paulson. 

Ramsey County Attorney’s Office spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said  Stephen Edward Gooler pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in August.

He was initially charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the June 20 stabbing death of Paulson, but as part of a plea deal, the intentional second-degree murder charge was dismissed, Gerhardstein said.

Ramsey County District Judge Joy Bartscher handed down the 15-year sentence on Friday, Sept. 27 for the one count of unintentional second-degree murder.

According to the criminal complaint, Gooler told police he had met Paulson three days before Paulson’s death on a gay chat line called MegaMates.

He told police that the two were “excited to see each other again,” and were hanging out at Paulson’s Mounds View apartment drinking vodka and making a dinner of baked chicken and pasta. Gooler told police he blacked out shortly after that and he did not remember anything else from that night.

According to the criminal complaint, when police arrived they found both men naked. Gooler was found outside on the grass and was at first unresponsive. He had apparently jumped or fell off a third-story balcony, and as a result broke three vertebrae and had  bleeding on his brain, according to the criminal complaint. Police found Paulson lying on his back, covered in blood in front of the door to an apartment. Officers could not find a pulse and medics pronounced him dead at the scene.

A woman and her adult child told police they had called 911 after Paulson had knocked on their door, yelling: “Help, help, he stabbed me,” and “Help I’m dying.”  They also told police they saw Gooler standing behind Paulson, who told them “he stabbed me first,” before running back to Paulson’s apartment.

A Ramsey County medical examiner determined a pair of scissors was most likely the weapon used to kill Paulson, whose major artery was cut and his lung pierced. Investigators recovered the scissors along with two bloody kitchen knives from Paulson’s apartment, according to the complaint.

Gooler has an extensive criminal record in Hennepin County, dating back to 1981. Court records show charges ranging from burglary, disorderly conduct and D.U.I. to assault and making terroristic threats.

Gerhardstein said the range of sentencing for a second-degree unintentional murder charge is between 141 and 198 months. Gooler’s criminal history, disregard for human life, and level of trust with the victim all combined to warrant prosecutors to ask for the maximum sentence, Gerhardstein said. Gooler is currently serving his 180-month sentence at Stillwater Prison. With good behavior, he is eligible for early release in 10 years.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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