A St. Paul teen pleaded guilty Tuesday to terrorizing a group of teenagers at gunpoint and raping two young women on Harriet Island in 2017.
Prosecutors are expected seek a nearly 47-year prison term, lifetime supervised release and lifetime sex offender registration for Choncey M. Stewart, who was 16 at the time.
Stewart, 17, testified in Ramsey County District Court that he initiated the attack on a group of three juveniles and one adult about 11:15 p.m. on June 6, 2017.
“I grabbed one of the girls and put her in the car …,” Stewart said.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Jill Fedje asked Stewart if he pulled the woman by the hair.
“Yes,” he said, eyes downcast as he recalled how he and three friends attacked them.
Stewart entered a straight plea to two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree criminal sexual conduct while armed with a dangerous weapon, two counts of aiding and abetting kidnapping and four counts of aiding and abetting first-degree robbery.
Prosecutors threatened to file two additional kidnapping charges and a count of crime committed for the benefit of a gang if he proceeded to trial. They are expected to seek an aggravated sentence when Stewart is sentenced March 15.
Stewart’s attorney, Patrick McGee, said he would seek a “significantly” lower term, but did not specify the amount.
If prosecutors get the prison term they seek, Stewart would be nearly 50 years old before he is eligible for parole.
According to Stewart’s testimony and the criminal complaint filed against him: Stewart and his friends, ages 18 to 20 at the time, were on Harriet Island when they encountered the victims, including a 16-year-old boy he knew from high school who approached him and asked to buy marijuana. Stewart’s group had none to sell.
Stewart went back to his group and then ran up to the victims armed with a handgun.
“Do you know who the [expletive] I am?” Stewart admitted to saying.
Stewart made the two male victims disrobe down to their underwear and lie facedown. The 16-year-old thought the gun was fake.
“I took the clip out the gun and showed him the bullets,” Stewart testified.
Stewart and his co-defendants took four iPhones from the victims after Stewart, at gunpoint, made them remove their pass codes and an app that locates lost or stolen phones. They also took $85.
Stewart put the barrel of the gun in a 15-year-old boy’s mouth. The boy Stewart knew from school looked up, and someone in Stewart’s group kicked him in the face.
“You threatened to kill them?” Fedje asked.
“Yes,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s group looked through the victims’ car. He testified that armed with the gun, he then dragged a 17-year-old girl to the back seat, forced her to undress and sexually assaulted her.
When Stewart was finished, his co-defendant, Devontre J. Vann, who was 19 at the time, assaulted the girl.
Stewart dragged the second woman, 18, by the hair to the front seat, made her undress and sexually assaulted her.
Stewart gave the gun to another co-defendant, DeAndray A. Easley, who was 18 at the time. Easley pointed it at the male victims and stood over them.
Stewart testified that he returned to the back seat and assaulted the first victim a second time.
Vann then sexually assaulted the other victim.
Stewart’s group forced the victims into the car, threw the keys into the bushes and threatened to shoot anyone who moved within 20 minutes. The victims waited 20 minutes before calling police.
Vann, 20, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison.
Easley, 20, was convicted at trial and was sentenced to nearly 30 years.
Vershone J. Hodges, 21, who was also with Stewart’s group and assaulted one of the women, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years.