A Minneapolis gang member will spend more than 25 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a 16-year-old boy in 2010, the Hennepin County attorney's office announced Thursday.
Thomas Joseph Neeland, 28, was immediately sentenced Wednesday to 26 years in prison for the shooting death of Andrew Battees of Minneapolis, according to the attorney's office. Battees was found early on June 13, 2010, in the front yard of a home in the 2600 block of 18th Avenue S. He died in the hospital from a bullet to the head.
Minneapolis police linked Neeland, a member of the Native Mob gang, and Battees to an attempted robbery of four men earlier that month in New Brighton. Neeland had shot all four men, who weren't critically injured. A witness told police Neeland shot Battees because he thought the teen was going to rat him out to the police. When police arrested Neeland, they recovered a handgun that police linked to Battees' killing.
"This was the cold-blooded murder of a kid by a man he obviously looked up to," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. "Mr. Neeland made sure Andrew Battees would never have a chance to lead a productive life."
A Hennepin County grand jury indicted Neeland in January 2011 on two counts of first-degree murder with intent while committing a felony and two counts of second-degree murder.