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Guilty plea in court marred by outburst

This news story was published on January 9, 2012.
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Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, Minneapolis –

A man’s guilty plea for a 2011 fatal shooting was interrupted Monday morning when one of the victim’s cousins loudly cussed as she walked out of the courtroom.

“He should’ve shot your 1/8expletive],” a tearful J’Andra Crumble said toward the end of the plea hearing at the Law Enforcement Center.

The outburst caused Judge Margaret M. Marrinan to instruct sheriff’s deputies to temporarily detain the woman. Family members stood up in court as loud scuffling noises could be heard from just outside the courtroom.

“That’s my daughter! That’s my daughter!” said a woman who darted out after Crumble.

The guilty plea of Joshua M. Bystrom, 21, in the death of Trent A. Crumble, 24, was anticipated to be a challenge. Several sheriff’s deputies stood guard at the LEC entrance and outside of the courtroom while six deputies stood watch inside the courtroom. The staffing numbers are unusual for most proceedings at the LEC.

The judge urged family members to calm down.

“Have patience with this process, please,” Marrinan said. “… keep peace on the streets.”

Bystrom pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the May 2011 shooting that occurred during a marijuana deal gone bad in St. Paul. Two counts of second-degree murder and one count each of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Prior to the outburst, prosecutor David Hunt told Marrinan that Crumble’s family opposed the plea agreement.

Bystrom testified in court that he and his friend, Javaier Abdul Ahmed, had stopped in a parking lot at Dale Street and Minnehaha for a drug transaction. Bystrom said he did not know it was a drug deal at the time.

A man with Crumble, Ronald A. Gilgenbach, approached their car, spoke to Ahmed and then left. Ahmed was sitting in the driver’s seat, and Bystrom testified that he was in the backseat.

Crumble then approached the car, put Ahmed in a headlock, pointed a handgun at them and pistol whipped Ahmed when Ahmed put his keys in the ignition in an attempt to flee, Bystrom testified. Meanwhile, Gilgenbach ransacked the car.

Bystrom testified that he feared for his and Ahmed’s safety, so he shot Crumble, who died about an hour later from two gunshot wounds.

Hunt told Marrinan that surveillance video and witness accounts corroborate Bystrom’s account of the shooting.

J’Andra Crumble’s outburst coincided with Bystrom’s attorney instructing him to tell the court why he was in “imminent fear” for his safety. In pleading guilty, Bystrom gave up the right to claim self-defense or defense of another person at trial, but he can present it as a mitigating factor when he is sentenced Feb. 29.

J’Andra Crumble was flanked by deputies outside the courtroom, causing family members’ emotions to run high. All but her mother and one other person were escorted out of the courthouse before she was brought before Marrinan in court.

“Your outburst in court, strictly speaking, is considered criminal contempt of court,” Marrinan said. “I really don’t want to send you to jail, and it is not my intention to do that.”

The judge told Crumble that contempt of court could result in up to 90 days in jail. She expressed empathy for the family’s pain, but asked Crumble if she would behave at future hearings.

“Do I have your word?” the judge asked.

A long pause ensued before Crumble reluctantly offered, “Yeah, you have my word.”

And more quickly, Crumble confessed, “I don’t want to lie to you,” before breaking down in tears. She told the judge that a plea agreement wasn’t fair, and that Bystrom was lying in court.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone or disrespect your court,” Crumble said before she was released.

Bystrom could be sentenced to between 3 1/2 years and about 4andfrac34; years in prison.

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3 Responses to Guilty plea in court marred by outburst

  1. Avatar

    invisable Reply Report comment

    April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Bystrom lying in court, come on! Wake up Crumble family,gang members get shot when they rob people!!!!! seriously, Bystrom has no criminal record, not even a driving violation, look on utube, u see Crumble flashing a gun and talking about robbing people, oh but that is ok! WOW!!!!!! Bystrom should’nt of served a day in jail. Now Ahmed who set it up should be paying some sort of price for the crime, it;s always the ones who shouldn’t go to jail who end up there……well in this case anyways…..

  2. Avatar

    Observer Reply Report comment

    January 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    The legislators only follow what a majority of the people want Peter. You are in a very small minority.

  3. Avatar

    Peter Reply Report comment

    January 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Here’s another case of violence that could have been averted if marijuana was made legal. Senseless. The blood is on the hands of the legislative / lobby machine that keeps marijuana illegal.