A 17-year-old gang member who was one of two brothers charged in the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in St. Paul last November has been certified to stand trial as an adult.
Ramsey County District Judge Robert Awsumb concluded in an order issued on Friday that the penalties and programming offered within the juvenile-justice system were an inadequate remedy for the crimes allegedly committed by Jim Her.
Awsumb's order came two months after Jim Her's younger brother pleaded guilty in juvenile court and agreed to testify against his brother and seven other men and boys who allegedly took part in the Nov. 17 gang rape. The younger brother was 15 at the time of the alleged attack.
Each of the nine suspects were alleged members or associates of the True Blood (TB22) street gang.
Authorities allege they attacked the girl at an abandoned house on the city's East Side after first plying her with alcohol. The younger Her brother is prepared to testify that each of the suspects planned to rape the girl but that someone yelled a warning that police were coming and that everyone scattered, authorities say.
According to testimony during his adult-certification hearing, Jim Her is suspected of having been a TB22 member for four to five years. He is accused of being among those who surrounded the girl in a tiny, trash-filled room as his brother helped hold her down. At least one suspect, Vang Tou Ger Vue, of St. Paul, is alleged to have sexually penetrated the victim before the group scattered, the charges say.
In his order, Awsumb wrote that it had been suggested that Jim Her be deemed less culpable because he did not actually rape the 14-year-old.
"His actions, however, were part of a horrific concerted effort to rape this young girl and he is, therefore, equally culpable," Awsumb wrote.
Jim Her did not testify during his hearing. Public defender Diane Dodd and others quoted Her as saying that he was a TB22 member but wanted to get out of the gang.
Prosecutor Heidi Westby argued that keeping Her within the juvenile justice system was inadequate because he could return home and associate again with gang members known for auto thefts, burglaries and drive-by shootings. As a juvenile offender, he no longer would be subject to court supervision after age 21.
Last December, Jim Her returned to school after withdrawing for an extended period. Awsumb noted that the return, which reportedly yielded positive results, also coincided with "his admissions to police of his involvement in this offense."
Her, if convicted, now faces from 17 years to 28 years in prison, under state sentencing guidelines. Long-term adult supervision, the judge concluded, would be "far more prudent" than what he described as the "limited supervision afforded by the juvenile justice system."
On Wednesday, four adult gang-rape suspects are scheduled to appear in District Court to schedule future action in the case. Two juvenile suspects are scheduled for adult-certification hearings within the next two weeks.
Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041