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Judge Sentences Grice to 25 Years in Prison for Rosemount Car Wash Murder

Judge Karen Asphaug's 25-year sentence for Jonas Grice was extolled by defense attorneys but questioned by Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom who sought 40 years.

Update (12:45 p.m., Jan. 5, 2012) Jonas Gerald Grice showed little emotion Thursday morning as Dakota County District Court Judge Karen Asphaug read a 7-page decision that ultimately sentenced him to 306 months in prison.

Grice was convicted on Oct. 26, 2011 of second-degree murder in the slaying of 22-year-old Apple Valley man Anthony Hartman at a Rosemount car wash in 2010.

In her decision, Judge Asphaug addressed the families involved, Grice's criminal history and the defense team's appeals for a lesser and shorter sentence.

The tragedy and senselessness of these events have haunted each of you since Anthony's death and Jonas' arrest ... The pain and loss that each family has endured is beyond comprehension. I grieve for you, for both mothers, both fathers and for all the extended family members and community members who have been touch by this tragedy.

A sentence will never heal the wounds you have suffered, a sentence will not bring back Anthony, the son you love and lost, nor Jonas, who through his own actions and choices, is also absent from his parents' daily lives in a very real way. A sentence will not take away your pain.

Judge Asphaug told the silent courtroom that, in her decision, she strove for justice and sought a sentence based on fairness, accountability and community standards.

In reference to Grice's 2007 conviction of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and whether the nature of that crime affected sentencing in this case, Asphaug said it did not.

Asphaug told the court she was "impressed by the sincerity, credibility and dignity" of the victim's testimony but, while it was clear the woman was coerced into a sexual act against her will, the judge did not feel the 2007 crime met the legal standard to add severity or length to Grice's current sentence.  

Conversely, Asphaug said Grice's history of crimes against people and non-compliance with mental health treatment—even while living with the "support of his loving and involved parents"—did not warrant a reduction of his sentence either.

The record supports a finding that (Grice) is a high risk offender who poses a substantial risk to others. The record does not support a finding that (Grice) is amenable to probationary supervision and accordingly, a non-imprisonment dispositional departure is not warranted in this case.

In her final decision, Asphaug agreed that Grice suffers from chronic paranoid schizophrenia and that "his mental illness affected his judgment" on the day he shot and killed Hartman.

But she also considered the way in which Grice "paused, surveyed the situation ... drew down, and fired the final shots at nearly point blank range" to have been particularly cruel treatment of a "wounded and defenseless" Hartman.

Under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, Asphaug had the option to sentence Grice to as few as 261 months or as many as 367 months. In the end, she split the difference. 

Grice's defense attorney Rickie Leonard Petry was satisfied with what he considered a just sentence.

"We think it's a reasonable and fair sentence given all the circumstances," Petry said after the sentencing. "Clearly (Asphaug) had given adequate consideration to all the factors raised by both sides ... The unfortunate thing is that no matter how you look at it, this is a tragedy. My heart goes out to both of the families ... If there is justice, I believe, according to the law, the judge ruled out a just sentence today."

Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom told reporters that, while he respects Judge Asphaug's decision, he was not satisfied with Grice receiving less than 40 years in prison. 

The defendant should never have been in possession of a weapon given his past history of violence and mental illness. We're deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred here and our sympathy goes out to the Hartman family for their great loss. We sought a 40-year sentence and we'll be evaluating if we have the grounds for an appeal as we look at the transcripts and review the case further. 

Grice will spend at least 17 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. He will then submit to another 8.5 years of supervised probation. 

The Commissioner of Corrections is empowered to extend Grice's prison sentence if he violates disciplinary rules while incarcerated. 

Update (9:50 a.m., Jan. 5, 2012) Dakota County District Judge Karen Asphaug made her decision Thursday on the sentence for 29-year-old Jonas Gerald Grice, who was found guilty in October of murdering 22-year-old Anthony Hartman of Apple Valley at a Rosemount Car Wash in 2010. 

In her sentencing, Grice:

  • Received 25.5 years in prison
  • Credit for 541 days already served in jail
  • Will pay restitution for Anthony Hartman's funeral costs
  • Will pay for any uninsured counseling for Hartman's family

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Update (4:20 p.m., Jan. 4, 2012) Dakota County District Court Judge Karen Asphaug is facing a difficult decision in sentencing convicted murderer Jonas Grice after attorneys for the prosecution and defense made compelling arguments Wednesday afternoon.

Grice faces sentencing after being convicted on Oct. 26, 2011, of second-degree murder for a July 2010 incident in which he shot and killed a 22-year-old Apple Valley man in a Rosemount car wash.  

Prosecuting attorneys in the case are asking for the maximum sentence in the case—40 years in prison—arguing Grice was the first aggressor in the incident. 

The state pointed to two separate witnesses that testified during the trial to seeing Grice argue with the victim and a friend prior to a pushing exchange that led to the shooting.

They also cited witness testimony that veins were bulging in Grice's neck and that he looked angry, not scared nor confused during the confrontation. 

"Mr. Grice did not lack substantial capacity or judgement at the time of the offense," prosecuting attorney Jessica Bierwerth said, undermining the defense argument that Grice was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic in 2005.

The prosecution also highlighted prior incidents of stalking—pattern of harassment (2001), fifth-degree assault (2003) and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (2004) to establish of Grice's pattern of violent behavior.   

"(40 years in prison) is the only sentence that ensures public safety for a continued amount of time ... and the only sentence that is appropriate for this senseless killing," Bierwerth concluded.

Defense attorney Rickie Leonard Petry, on the other hand, urged Judge Asphaug to consider the consequences of sending Grice to prison rather than to psychiatric facility. 

First, Petry told Asphaug, it was unlikely Grice would take his medication on a regular basis in jail and, as a result, his condition would deteriorate. Grice would then be subjected to a "large number of people, many of whom are violent and many of whom are predators," which could constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

Petry then argued that Minnesota does not condone capital punishment and Grice's crime does not warrant life in prison. "(Grice) won't be in prison for life. He is gonna get out sometime. And when he does, after not taking his medication regularly, he's gonna do it again and again."

Petry cited testimony from an expert witness that confirmed if psychiatric patients fail to take their medication on a regular basis, their conditions worsen, their behavior can become more eratic and they can become more more violent.

Petry's final argument was for sentencing Grice to an extended stay at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center. 

"St. Peter is a very very secure facility. It houses some of the most dangerous people in Minnesota. In fact, it is not much different from a prison. Nobody's going anywhere (in the facility) if they're not supposed to," Petry argued.

Perhaps most importantly, Petry concluded, is that Grice would receive the medication and psychiatric treatment he needs at St. Peter. "One thing that allows people like (Grice) to succeed in life is a support network outside the family." 

Judge Asphaug made no comments to the court after hearing sentencing arguments other than to say she would issue her sentence Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

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Update (12:45 p.m., Jan. 4, 2012) Just prior to breaking for lunch, Dakota County District Court Judge Karen Asphaug listened to impact statements from the mother, father and girlfriend of slain Apple Valley man Anthony Hartman. 

Jonas Gerald Grice, 29, of Burnsville, was convicted of shooting and killing 22-year-old Hartman at a Rosemount car wash on July 12, 2010.

"I'm still waiting for my son to come home," Karen Hartman said during a tear-filled address to the court. "I'm waiting to wake up from this nightmare ... I knew he'd leave home someday but he was supposed to come back with a wife and kids."  

Karen Hartman also talked about her reluctance to watch television or listen to the radio because the former is a constant reminder of the tragedy, while the latter represents something to which she and her son would spend hours singing together.

She concluded by saying, "I'm sorry but 40 years is not nearly enough" to pay for the defendant's crime against her son.

Anthony Hartman's longtime girlfriend Chantel Folden looked Grice in the face when asking why he was given the right to see Anthony in his final moments of life.

"No sentence would ever satisfy me," she said after talking about the family she and Anthony Hartman planned but would never have.

Anthony Hartman's father, Dave Hartman, talked about his feelings of failure "for not protecting [Anthony]" and the uselessness he feels when looking into his wife's "empty eyes." 

"He has a history of extreme violence," Dave Hartman said referencing Jonas' 2007 conviction which was reduced from rape to third-degree sexual assault. "If (Grice) would not have gotten off easy once, my son would still be alive."

Dave Hartman also asked Judge Asphaug for the most extreme penalty she could give.

Patricia Grice, Jonas' mother, addressed the court and the Hartman family through her son's defense attorney and expressed her condolences for what her son admitted doing.

She spoke of Jonas' mental illness and expressed her hope that he would be incarcerated in a facility that employed specialists to help him deal with his lifelong issues. 

Speaking through his defense attorney, Jonas expressed his "sincere sorrow in causing the death of Anthony Hartman." 

Asphaug is prepared to listen to oral arguments for sentencing this afternoon.

Asphaug did say that she will be prepared to hand down Grice's sentence first thing Thursday morning.

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Update (11:27 a.m., Jan. 4, 2012) Sentencing began at the Dakota County Courthouse in Hastings Wednesday for a 29-year-old Burnsville man convicted of shooting and killing a 22-year-old Apple Valley man at a Rosemount car wash on July 12, 2010.

Jonas Gerald Grice was found guilty of second-degree intentional murder on Oct. 26, 2011.

During today's hearing, Asphaug listened to testimony from a victim of a sexual assault that took place in August 2004 and for which Grice was convicted of in 2007. Asphaug would like to give "judicial consideration" to the 2004 crime in the sentencing of Grice for the murder of Anthony Hartman.

Grice's sentencing will continue Thursday morning.

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Original Story (Oct. 26, 2011; by Betsy Sundquist) 

A Burnsville man who shot and killed a 22-year-old Apple Valley man at a Rosemount car wash last year was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree intentional murder.

Dakota County District Judge Karen Asphaug announced the verdict against Jonas Gerald Grice, 28, on Wednesday morning in Hastings.

Neither Grice nor his family showed any emotion as Asphaug announced her verdict.

“This has been a courtroom of brokenhearted people,” the judge said before issuing her ruling, praising the families of both Grice and the victim, Anthony Hartman, for  “conducting themselves with dignity, grace and understanding toward each other” throughout the case.

Grice, who was also charged with first-degree premeditated murder, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, but claimed a mental illness defense.

Asphaug rejected the defense’s claim that Grice – who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2005 – was mentally ill to the extent that he didn’t know that his actions were wrong on July 12, 2010, when he shot Hartman at point-blank range.

“This was a shocking crime which senselessly took a life of a young man with a bright future,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom – who was in the courtroom Wednesday morning – said in a statement. “The defendant had a history of mental illness and violence in his past and should never have been carrying a weapon.”

According to court documents, Grice was “feeling paranoid” the morning of July 12, 2010, and put a .38-caliber handgun under the driver’s seat in his car before he left his home, intending to get the oil changed in his car. His mother had previously found the gun in the garage, but “did not take steps” to remove it from the home.

There were too many customers at the garage, and Grice “felt too paranoid” to stay there, so he drove to an auto shop to buy oil. When the shop didn’t have the oil he needed, he decided to get his car washed.

While he was washing his car, Grice experienced auditory hallucinations, hearing “moans and screams” coming from the tires of other vehicles on the road.

Hartman and a friend, Bradley Dotseth, arrived at the car wash while Grice was washing his car. Dotseth parked beside a vacuum cleaner in the car wash parking lot, and Dotseth walked into a vestibule to use a change machine.

Dotseth and Grice called each other names as Dotseth walked past, and Grice continued calling him names as Dotseth returned to his car. Another witness told authorities that when he walked in to use the change machine, he saw Grice, apparently upset with someone, with veins bulging on his neck. Grice shouted, “What the [expletive] are you looking at?” out the door toward the vacuum machine, where Dotseth’s car was parked.

The witness described Grice as “agitated and feisty, not confused or scared.”

Dotseth told Hartman that Grice was “taunting” him, and Hartman suggested that they both walk into the car wash to find out what was going on.

The two men confronted Grice, who had finished washing his car and was in the driver’s seat. Grice reached beneath the seat, retrieved his gun and tucked it in his waistband, then got out of the car.

Hartman said, “What’s your problem with my friend?” A pushing match ensued, with Hartman pushing Grice first, according to Dotseth.

After about 30 seconds, Dotseth ran out of the car wash bay and around the building, intending to close one of the car wash bay doors to trap Grice. As he entered the other door, he saw Hartman lying on the floor, with Grice standing nearby; several seconds later, Dotseth heard gunfire and Hartman screaming “at the top of his lungs” before and after the gun was fired.

Dotseth turned and ran to a nearby business, hearing continued gunshots as he ran.

Another witness told authorities that he heard the gunfire, looked toward the car wash and saw Grice standing in the open door of the car wash bay, holding a handgun. The witness said Grice looked directly at him, then turned, pointed the weapon down and fired two more shots.

Three of the four gunshots struck Hartman, who died at the scene. He was shot in the chest from a range of 3 to 4 feet, in the neck from less than a foot away and in the lower abdomen. Authorities said Hartman would have been able to speak and react after being shot in the chest, but the wound to his neck went through his carotid artery and would have incapacitated him immediately.

After the shooting, Grice drove away from the car wash and went to his girlfriend’s home in St. Paul. He showed her the gun and emptied the cylinder onto a bed; when his girlfriend realized that there were bullets missing, Grice said, “Self-defense.”

Grice’s girlfriend washed the fingerprints off the gun, wrapped it in a jacket and hid it in the attic. The two then ate dinner and watched the news on television, including a report on the Rosemount shooting. Grice repeatedly said, “Self-defense. That’s all I’m saying, self-defense.”

The next day, Grice returned to his parents’ Burnsville home. When his father saw the news reports about the shooting and the description of the suspect, he became suspicious that his son was involved. He asked Grice if he was involved and if he “started it;” Grice replied, “They came at me. They were saying some things and I guess it progressed from there.”

Grice’s parents convinced their son to turn himself in. When he arrived at the police station, Grice said, “It was in self-defense. That’s all I’m saying.”

Asphaug scheduled Grice’s sentencing for Jan. 4-5 and ordered a presentence investigation. If prosecutors request an upward departure from sentencing guidelines because of aggravating factors in the crime, a hearing on that request will be held Jan. 4, with sentencing Jan. 5; if no such hearing is necessary, Grice will be sentenced Jan. 5.

He faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

Joe January 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Lame
Caleb January 05, 2012 at 09:07 PM
If this man had never used his gun it would have just been a fist fight and thats it. Both parties could have ignored the other and walked away but in the same fact Grice was not in a situation that he needed a gun. He murdered someone with a gun, its not like they got in a fight and someone hit there head and died he took out a gun and fired multiple times. He meant to kill Tony and he should see death himself which i beleive is the only fair punishment.

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