A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty Tuesday to being one of two teenagers who shot up a north Minneapolis home last summer and killed 5-year-old Nizzel George while the boy slept on his grandmother’s couch.
The hearing in Hennepin County District Court brought a degree of closure to one of the most notorious slayings in Minneapolis in recent years.
Julian K. Anderson, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the June 26 killing and was immediately sentenced to 28 years in prison for a crime he committed when he was 15. It will be more than 17 years before he’s eligible for supervised release.
In exchange for Anderson’s plea, prosecutors dropped two first-degree murder charges and another second-degree murder charge.
In February, 17-year-old Stephon Shannon, of Minneapolis, also was sentenced to 28 years in prison for shooting up the home as part of an ongoing gang feud. He also must wait at least 17 years before gaining supervised release.
Nizzel was the second of two young children killed by stray bullets in their north Minneapolis homes in a six-month period. Terrell Mayes Jr., 3, was shot and killed on the day after Christmas in 2011 in the 2600 block of Colfax Avenue N. by a stray bullet that ripped into his family home. That case remains unsolved.
The death of Nizzel, who was shot in the back, unleashed a torrent of grief and rage in the child’s family and among neighborhood activists.
During a visit to Minneapolis in February, President Obama evoked Nizzel’s name while decrying the gang violence that killed him.
“Finally, we are getting some closure on this horrible crime,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said of the Anderson sentencing. “Twenty-eight years may seem like a long time, but Mr. Anderson deserves every minute for brazenly shooting up a house and killing an innocent 5-year-old boy as he slept.”
Always with his gun
At one point in court Tuesday, Anderson appeared to laugh and smile as he responded to questions from his lawyer about giving up his right to a trial. Judge William Koch noted that and told Anderson that he suspected it was nervous laughter, then suggested he take a deep breath.
After several members of Nizzel’s family gave their victim impact statements, it was Anderson’s turn to speak. He apologized to the family and admitted that he had always carried a firearm and that he even slept with a gun.
Anderson did not admit to being part of a gang, as Shannon did when he pleaded guilty in February. Anderson said only that he accompanied his friend who had a grudge against some of the people in the house in the 4500 block of Bryant Avenue N.
Shannon believed there were members of a gang in that house and he wanted to retaliate against them. About 8:30 a.m., the two teenagers stood outside the house and fired at least 10 shots. One went through the siding and killed Nizzel.