Former LaPlace resident sentenced to 16 years: Butler connected to string of robberies, shooting in Minnesota

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — A man with addresses in LaPlace and Minneapolis, Minn. Was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison in connection to a string of robberies and the shooting of a musician in northeast Minneapolis.

Jonell Butler, 35, pleaded guilty to four robberies and is expected to serve 10 ½ years in prison, followed by supervised release. He was given credit for crime served since the September 2018 offenses.

Butler had been arrested in St. John the Baptist Parish more than 10 times prior to his March 2018 arrest for a LaPlace carjacking at gunpoint, according to police. In 2018, he was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and contempt of court.

Local authorities said Butler was arrested for armed robbery in 2015 after jumping into a man’s vehicle and forcing the victim at gunpoint to drive home to get money.

In 2017, Butler came crashing through the ceiling at a Sunnyside Drive home just before Sheriff Mike Tregre and other SJSO representatives booked him on three St. John Parish warrants, a fugitive warrant for the New Orleans Police Department for aggravated battery, first-degree robbery and illegal carrying of a weapon.

“He is one of our regulars,” Tregre told L’OBSERVATEUR at the time.

Butler’s sentencing in Minnesota traces back to Sept. 8, 2018. According to police, Butler was in a car with a woman he knew and a man who had agreed to drive both of them when he hit the driver and, with a knife held to his throat, made him pull over. Butler then forced the driver out of the car and took control of the vehicle.

At about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2018, Butler pointed a handgun at musician Aaron Lee and his girlfriend, Katie Szczepaniak as they were walking down a Minneapolis street. The couple gave up their wallets and a cell phone.

As the musician said he didn’t want to be robbed, Butler shot him in the abdomen, wounding him, and fled the scene. Investigators said Butler robbed others, including a group of women, later that night.

The driver of his getaway car, Natalie Box, 36, of Hibbing, Minn. Was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison on June 11.