Guilty plea in court marred by outburst

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2012 - 7:29 PM

The victim's family was not happy with a manslaughter plea.

A man's guilty plea for a 2011 fatal shooting was interrupted Monday when the victim's cousin loudly cursed as she walked out of the courtroom.

"He should've shot your [expletive]," J'Andra Crumble said at the plea hearing in the Law Enforcement Center.

After Judge Margaret Marrinan instructed sheriff's deputies to temporarily detain the woman, family members stood up in court as loud scuffling noises could be heard just outside.

"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 deputies stood at the LEC entrance and outside the courtroom while six deputies stood watch inside. The staffing numbers were unusual.

Marrinan asked about 10 family members to stay calm.

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

Prosecutor David Hunt said Crumble's family opposed the deal.

Bystrom testified in court that he and his friend Javaier Abdul Ahmed stopped in a parking lot at Dale Street and Minnehaha for a drug transaction. Bystrom said he wasn't aware at the time that the transaction was planned.

A man with Crumble, Ronald A. Gilgenbach, approached their car, spoke to Ahmed and left. Ahmed was in the driver's seat. Bystrom was in the back.

Crumble then approached, put Ahmed in a headlock, pointed a handgun at them and pistol whipped Ahmed, Bystrom testified. Meanwhile, Gilgenbach ransacked the car.

Bystrom testified that he feared for their safety, so he shot Crumble.

Hunt told the judge that surveillance video and witnesses corroborated Bystrom's story.

J'Andra Crumble's outburst occurred after the defense attorney asked Bystrom to tell the court why he was in "imminent fear" for his safety.

Bystrom may present that as a mitigating factor when he is sentenced Feb. 29.

J'Andra Crumble was later brought before Marrinan.

"Your outburst in court, strictly speaking, is considered criminal contempt of court," Marrinan said. "I really don't want to send you to jail ... ."

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

"Do I have your word?" the judge asked.

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

And then 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.

Bystrom could be sentenced to between 3 1/2 years and about 4¾ years in prison.

CHAO XIONG

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