Nurse Practitioner's Partner Found Shot, Staged Suicide Suspected

Nurse Practitioner’s Partner Found Shot, Staged Suicide Suspected

In Minnesota, a 45-year-old man will serve several decades in prison for shooting and killing his girlfriend, then setting up the scene so that the 32-year-old appeared to have shot herself.

According to court documents obtained by Law&Crime, Ramsey County District Court Judge DeAnne Hilgers sentenced Matthew Phillip Ecker to 30 years in a state prison for the 2022 murder of Alexandra L. Pennig on Wednesday.

A jury had already found him guilty on one charge of second-degree murder.

At the time, Ecker was a married emergency room nurse practitioner who had four kids with his spouse. According to the Pioneer Press, he stated that Pennig was aware of his family and did not give a damn, but his wife was unaware of the relationship and later divorced him.

As per the criminal complaint, on December 16, 2022, at about 2:50 a.m., St. Paul Police Department officers responded to a 911 call at an apartment complex located in the 200 block of Fifth Street East. Caller Ecker revealed that his fiancée had shot herself in the head around four minutes before the call.

“A firearm lay on (Pennig’s) chest and her left hand was on top of the gun,” as per the complaint. “Officers recovered the gun and noted (Pennig) had little or no grip on it. The handgun did not have any blood on its sides and possibly had blood on the tip of the muzzle — otherwise, it was remarkably clean. (Pennig) did not have any obvious signs of blood on her left hand.”

According to the police, Pennig’s legs were straddling the door, suggesting that it was probably open when she was shot.

Even though Ecker claimed to have shot herself just minutes earlier, the police observed that the blood in the bathroom had “dried and coagulated” by the time they got there.

A break in the wood near the lock of the bathroom door was also observed, giving the impression that someone had broken through the locked door.

Ecker stated that he and Pennig had been in an open relationship for roughly two years. He said that on December 15, Pennig had called to urge him to come over because she was allegedly “being abused by her other boyfriend.”

On the evening of December 15, he stated, they went out together. During their altercation, Ecker was punched in the face by the other man.

“He said (Pennig) was lying in a pool of blood, and he saw she had shot herself in the head,” according to the complaint. “Ecker said AP was still breathing when he got the door open, and he tried to help her using his medical skills — he put pressure on her head and performed CPR. Ecker said he did not have blood on his hands because he washed them in the bathroom sink before he called 911. Officers did not note any blood on Ecker’s clothing.”

After the incident, Ecker finally acknowledged that he had placed the gun back in his bag because he was afraid since “it was his gun,” but he later claimed to have placed it back on Pennig’s chest.

The police file concludes with a statement from Pennig’s family “confirming that (she) was right-handed.”

Hilgers stated that attempts to portray Ecker as a kind and loving man were refuted by the evidence shown during the trial before imposing the punishment. Ecker was “the man,” according to her, who shot and killed his girlfriend on purpose.

“The man who concealed the handgun after the shooting,” she stated. “The man who then coldly calculated to pose Alex after her death to appear to be the person who had been holding the gun.”

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