A Minneapolis man jailed and freed as a teenager in the 2007 shooting of a 12-year-old girl is charged with conspiring with two others to commit armed robbery while a child was in the car.
Tywin Marcell Bender, 22, faces felony charges of theft of a firearm, prohibited person in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit first-degree aggravated robbery and a gross misdemeanor charge of child endangerment. Charges say police believe Bender and two accomplices are responsible for three robberies in January in which the victims showed up to different locations in Minneapolis believing they were going to buy an iPhone, but were robbed at gunpoint. On Jan. 31, police tracked the telephone number of Bender's co-defendant, Montel DeShawn Johnson, 19. Charges say both are members or associates of the Stick Up Boys street gang.
An investigator posed as an interested buyer and agreed to meet at a Walgreens in south Minneapolis. Bender and Johnson arrived in a vehicle driven by Lashunda Erica Roberts, 23, with a small child inside. Police stopped the car and found a loaded .40 caliber handgun under the passenger seat with a live round in the chamber. The barrel was pointed toward the backseat where the child was sitting. The gun had been reported stolen, charges said.
Johnson allegedly admitted to agreeing to sell the phone, and the plan was for Bender to commit the robbery, police said. Johnson was charged with the same three felony counts and gross misdemeanor child endangerment. Roberts was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and with child endangerment.
Bender was released from jail in July 2008, shortly before his trial was to start in the shooting of Vernice Hall in September 2007. Police believe Hall, who was left with major brain damage and is unable to walk or talk, was the victim of a stray bullet during a gang feud.
In March 2009, Bender was convicted of first-degree aggravated robbery and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm as the result of a 2006 conviction. He was sentenced to four years in prison and paroled last November.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921