Denying a last-ditch effort to have a convicted murderer sent to a psychiatric treatment facility instead of prison, a Dakota County judge on Thursday sentenced Jonas G. Grice to 25 1/2 years behind bars for a 2010 slaying at a Rosemount carwash.
Grice, 29, of Burnsville, will serve at least 17 years before being eligible for supervised release. He pleaded guilty in October to the killing of Anthony Hartman, 22.
Hartman's parents, other family members and friends all but filled the benches in a Hastings courtroom during a day of testimony Wednesday as they listened to attorneys argue about where and for how long Grice should be imprisoned.
Relatives sobbed softly as Karen Hartman and Chantel Folden, the victim's mother and girlfriend, respectively, read their victim-impact statements and as prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz read one from Dave Hartman, the victim's father.
A few yards away, Grice's parents sat alone, shrouded in their own sorrow for a son they lost to paranoid schizophrenia some years ago and lost again 18 months ago to an almost unimaginable crime.
District Judge Karen Asphaug on Thursday told the families that she grieves for both the Hartman and the Grice families.
"The pain and loss that each family has endured is beyond comprehension," the judge said. "I grieve for you, for both mothers, both fathers, and for all the extended family members and community members who have been touched by this tragedy. We do not live in isolation, and surely we are reminded today of the ripple effect that one life has upon others."
Defense attorney Rick Petry argued Wednesday for Grice to be put in a secure mental health facility, such as the one in St. Peter, Minn., where he could be monitored and treated for his mental illness. Prison, Petry said, would only exacerbate Grice's disease.
"The court can provide for an alternative sentence and public safety," Petry said. "Either way, he's not going to be out in public for a very, very, very long time."
But for the judge to order that Grice be sent to a mental health facility she would have had to put him on probation rather than sentencing him to prison, and Asphaug said it "was not consistent with public safety" to do that. The judge said Grice has previously been convicted of assault, harassment and criminal sexual conduct. He has a history of not complying with mental health treatment and not consistently taking his medications, she said.
Asphaug said Grice's mental illness and the fact that Hartman and his friend, Bradley Dotseth, initiated the confrontation were not enough to justify the risk.
For most of the two-day sentencing hearing, Grice -- dressed in a navy blue jail jumpsuit with shackles around his ankles -- stared at a spot on the floor a few feet ahead of him. His eyes never went to the judge, the speakers, his attorneys or his parents. He showed no emotion when Asphaug handed down his sentence.
Karen Hartman talked about her youngest son's helpfulness to their Apple Valley neighbors and at their family cabin. She said he loved the outdoors, sports, his first vehicle -- a Jeep -- and singing and dancing. He was an Eagle Scout. He set up his first business, snow shoveling, when he was 10, she said.
He was excited to help a friend move, she said. He was excited about getting Twins tickets from his employer. She quoted a note the family received from his dental hygienist: "To say he was charming would not come close to his personality."
Said his mother, "Only one thing gets me out of the house every day. I go to St. Joseph's Cemetery to visit my son."
Folden, the victim's girlfriend of two years, said Hartman was "the only man who never thought twice about my want for six children. Now, he will never have the opportunity to be a father."
Grice pleaded guilty Oct. 7 to intentional second-degree murder in the July 12, 2010, shooting death of Hartman after a verbal confrontation at the Car Spa in Rosemount. On Oct. 26, Asphaug ruled that Grice was legally sane when he shot Hartman four times. The judge agreed at the time that Grice suffered from a serious and persistent mental illness but said he had the capacity to know that his actions were wrong.
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284