Sixteen years for robbery spree and shooting musician

Monday, August 19, 2019

Jonell Butler was sentenced to 199 months in prison for a string of robberies and the shooting of a local musician, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Butler, 35, whose address is sometimes Minneapolis and sometimes Laplace, La., pleaded guilty on Aug. 1 to four separate robberies committed in September and October 2018.

According to the criminal complaints, Butler’s robbery spree began the evening of Sept. 8 in the 2600 block of Third Street North. The victim had gone to the area to pick up a woman he knew. When he arrived, Butler was with her 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. He pleaded guilty to the first-degree robbery.

On Oct. 5, at about 10:30 p.m. musician Aaron Lee and his girlfriend were walking in the area of 13th Avenue NE and Fourth Street NE when a white SUV pulled up and Butler got out of the passenger side. He pointed a handgun at the couple, who turned over their wallets and a cell phone to him. When Lee said something about not wanting to be robbed, Butler shot him in the abdomen and fled in the vehicle. Butler pleaded guilty to first-degree assault.

About an hour later, again at Fourth Street NE but at 22nd Avenue NE, another couple was walking and the white SUV pulled up and Butler got out of the passenger side. Butler robbed the couple of their wallets and phones and pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery.

Then about one-and-a-half hours later, at 1 a.m. on Oct. 6, four women were walking on 12th Avenue SE and University Avenue SE when they saw Butler standing on the sidewalk. They crossed the street, but Butler followed them and pulled out a handgun. Two of the women ran, but the other two did not and Butler robbed them, taking cash and cell phones. He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery.

The driver of the SUV was identified as Natalie Box, 36, of Hibbing. She 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 78 months in prison on June 11.

First robbery criminal complaint (PDF)

Second robbery criminal complaint (PDF)

Third robbery criminal complaint (PDF)

Fourth robbery criminal complaint (PDF)