Shooting suspect could face first degree murder charges
Jonas Grice has already been charged with second degree murder in connection with last week's shooting at a Rosemount car wash. But Dakota County attorney James Backstrom is hoping for more.
Backstrom hopes to get a grand jury to indict Grice on first-degree murder charges. If he is indicted, Grice, accused of shooting Anthony Hartman on July 12, could face life in prison.
"This is an extreme act of violence that included shooting a defenseless man who was on the ground," said Backstrom.
A grand jury will be convened in the next four to eight weeks. A grand jury indictment is required in all first-degree murder charges.
Grice has a history of violent behavior. In 2003 he was convicted of fifth degree criminal assault. In 2005 he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct.
He also has a history of mental illness. In 2007 Grice was civilly committed for six months.
How it all will come into play remains to be seen but Backstrom said Grice's actions at the car wash that day have warranted a life sentence.
Grice, a Bursville resident, shot Hartman after a brief altercation at the Car Spa Car Wash on West Canada Avenue.
According to the complaint filed July 16 in Dakota County Court Hartman had accompanied a friend to the car wash. The 20-year-old friend, who has not been identified, said the two stopped at the car wash to vacuum the vehicle.
The friend went to a coin machine and while there, encountered Grice. The friend said Grice, who was in a nearby car wash bay, tried to pick a fight with him.
The friend then went back to his car and told Hartman, who went over to confront Grice.
The friend then went to the other side of the car wash bay where the two men were. He saw Hartman push Grice and then Grice push Hartman, causing him to fall to the ground. Grice then pulled a handgun and the friend said he heard two gunshots.
The friend then ran to a neighboring business to call 911. He told police he watched Grice drive away north on Highway 3 at a casual speed in a gold Mercury.
Another witness at the scene, who was standing approximately 100 feet away, heard two gunshots, looked up and saw a man with a gun in his hand. He described the gun as a dark-framed revolver with a light-colored handle. The witness ducked behind his truck and then heard several more gunshots. Several other people in the area reported hearing multiple gunshots as well.
According to the Dakota County medical examiner Hartman was shot three times - twice in the abdomen and once in the back of the head. Hartman died as a result of the shot to the head.
Grice's parents brought him to the Burnsville Police Station to turn himself in confronting their son about the incident. Grice's mother said she owned a gold Mercury, which her son regularly drove.
After hearing about the crime and the description of the assailant and vehicle, Grice's mother asked her son about it. After that conversation, Grice's parents decided to bring him in.
According to the complaint Grice told Burnsville Police the shooting "was in self defense, that is all I'm saying."
The friend who was with Hartman at the time identified Grice as the murderer after police showed him a photo line up.
Grice's girlfriend told police July 14 that Grice had called her the evening of the incident and told her he was going to wash his car. Later that night Grice showed her a gun. The girlfriend told Grice he didn't need it and took it away from him.
After getting a search warrant detectives recovered the gun, which matched the witnesses description, from the girl's residence.
Grice is still in custody. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 30.
Meanwhile, Rosemount and the people affected by the incident have to begin the healing process. Police chief Gary Kalstabakken said the incident has shaken residents in Rosemount and that it will take time to get back to normal.
"The fact that this happened at a car wash at that time of day got people's attention. It's hard to understand. It's just startling and will have an impact on people for a while," said Kalstabakken.