A man was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for going on a robbery spree that included shooting and seriously wounding a local musician on a northeast Minneapolis street.
Jonell Butler, 35, with addresses in Minneapolis and LaPlace, La., pleaded guilty on Aug. 1 to four robberies in a month’s time last fall.
With credit for time in jail since his arrest, Butler will serve roughly 10½ years in prison and the balance on supervised release.
Butler’s robberies began on Sept. 8, 2018, in the 2600 block of 3rd Street N., where a man arrived to pick up a woman he knew. Butler was with the woman, and the man agreed to drive both of them. Once in the car, Butler started hitting the driver, put a knife to his throat, made him pull over and forced him out of the car. Butler then took the car.
On Oct. 5 at about 10:30 p.m., musician Aaron Lee and girlfriend Katie Szczepaniak were walking near 13th Avenue NE. and 4th Street, where Butler exited an SUV and pointed a handgun at the couple. They gave their wallets and a cell phone.
When Lee, better known to his friends as “Hix,” said something about not wanting to be robbed, Butler shot him in the abdomen and fled in the SUV.
He was shot just before his band, Red Daughters, was slated to play at the nearby 331 Club.
About an hour later, this time at 4th Street NE. at 22nd Avenue, Butler again arrived in an SUV, and he robbed another couple of wallets and a cellphone.
About 90 minutes later, four women were walking on 12th Avenue SE. at University Avenue, where they Butler standing on the sidewalk. The women crossed the street, and Butler followed them and pulled out a handgun. Two of the women ran, and Butler robbed the others of cash and cellphones.
The driver of the SUV Natalie Box, 36, of Hibbing, Minn., pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree assault and aiding and abetting first-degree robbery in the two northeast Minneapolis robberies on Oct. 5. She was sentenced to a 6½-year term on June 11.