Link to Star Telegram Article
There's lessons all over the place on this one.
- The criminals acquired most of their guns by burglarizing houses. They started skipping school and burglarizing houses when they were in 9th grade.
- The victims had a gun cabinet, but all of the guns were locked inside of it in the parents bedroom. This actually had two negative impacts:
1) They couldn't get to the guns to use for defense
2) The criminals saw the guns and - because they heard an ambulance and thought it was the police and left early - they actually went back later that night to see if the house was empty so that they could steal the guns.
- The dad who showed up to pick up his son and got beaten severely tried a martial arts disarm move. He was overpowered when he was clubbed with the barrel of the firearm. They broke his orbital bone in his eye (near the nose), gave him a concussion, and he required more than 35 staples to close the back of his head up.
- The criminals were stupid.
1) They returned to the crime scene that night.
2) They had an after party and bragged to their friends, reenacting the events. Two of those friends testified for the state.
3) They tried to burn the Lexus they stole because the drive wasn't wearing gloves. They lit paper on fire, threw it in the seats, closed the doors, and drove off. The fires went out when they closed the doors.
4) They stole cell phones from teenagers, most of which had tracking apps on them. The police had a nice, clear map of everywhere they went.
5) They defaced one victim's Facebook page from his phone. His phone company located the phone and found the final location.
6) Our defendant left the uncleaned gun in a seat pouch in his car, with the victim's blood on it. He had it in his car at school when a drug/bomb dog sniffed it - unrelated to the police investigation.
7) The criminals took photos of themselves in their masks while pointing their guns at the mirror.
8) Two of the criminals conspired to plead not guilty and one was going to take the fall for everybody, but did so by writing letters to each other in jail through an outside forwarder. The jail provided the DA with copies of every letter. The defendant's witness didn't know the DA had the letters until they showed them to him on the stand.
9) We found out afterward that our defendant had been offered a 20-year plea bargain and didn't take it. The one remaining perpetrator who was still pleading not guilty changed to guilty and accepted 20 years about two weeks later.
10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.
11) The long gun was actually a pellet gun. One of the handguns was a commemorative revolver that was welded and inoperative. The other two in the house had a .380 and a 9mm while the driver who stayed a block away had a .45 ACP. The driver testified for the state.
12) They used one guy's nickname and his real name during the event. A witness recalled hearing the names and told the detective two days later. The name was our defendant's. They drove his car, and he was portrayed as the ring leader of this group of thugs.
If any of you think I'm crazy for posting this, let me know and I'll pull it down. Otherwise, I'm willing to answer any questions. It was an eye-opening week for sure. I've spent a lot of time putting myself in the homeowner's shoes and in the dad who showed up to pick up his son's shoes. And the shoes of the kids at the party. (Her little brother had a friend over to play video games for the evening, they even put them on the floor at gunpoint and stole their wallets. The brother's friend had $2. They took it.)
I was also thinking of you guys here, and how we often discuss holding people who do evil with guns accountable. Once the prosecution satisfied their responsibility to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, a message needed to be sent to the victims about the value of their lives and to the community about how we feel about these sorts of crimes. Even the defense attorney admitted during closing arguments - after the DA's rebuttal witnesses testified - that we'd heard "devastating evidence".
It took us one hour to find him guilty on Thursday and two hours to agree on the sentence on Friday.