A Minneapolis man agreed to a five-year prison sentence for weapons charges as part of a plea deal in connection with the drive-by shooting death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son.
However, prosecutors have still not charged anyone with murder in the death of Le’Vonte King Jason Jones.
Melvonte Peterson, 26, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm on the day of the July 8 shooting, as a previous conviction barred him from having weapons.
Peterson was driving a van in north Minneapolis with Le’Vonte and his 15-month-old daughter when another driver pulled up next to him and opened fire, killing Le’Vonte. Peterson returned fire before driving to North Memorial Medical Center. Prosecutors charged Peterson with murder, manslaughter and neglect, arguing that the father placed his children’s safety in danger by carrying a gun and went looking for a fight in gang territory.
Judge Regina Chu threw out the murder charges in January, saying that holding him responsible “defies common sense.”
“The shooting happened in the daylight hours. Defendant did not initiate the shooting. That defendant had a new firearm does not imply he was out riding around searching for trouble.”
The person who fired the shots that killed the boy is still free, despite both Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty saying in interviews with the Star Tribune that they know who did it.
During an interview in December, Freeman said he knew who shot Le’Vonte, but added, “Can I prove it beyond a reasonable doubt? No.”
“If I had it, I’d have charged it,” he said.
Peterson is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10.