American Experiment’s Criminal Injustice Tracker

Minnesotans consistently rank fear of crime as their #1 concern for state and local leaders. Studies consistently show a small number of violent criminals are responsible for most crimes committed.

American Experiment’s Criminal Injustice Tracker below highlights the public instances where a suspected violent criminal has been inexplicably released from jail potentially putting the entire community at risk.

Have an example? Email us at [email protected].

The Latest

December 2022 — Mohamed Bakari Shei (20, Rochester) was charged with 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct with two children under 10 years old. On Dec. 6, 2022, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem entered into a plea deal that calls for zero prison time, despite Minnesota sentencing guidelines calling for a 12-year prison sentence.

In August 2019, Breck Robert Houghtaling, age 52, brutally assaulted his brother who spent 7 weeks in a coma. He was charged with 1st-degree assault and great bodily harm which per the sentencing guidelines, calls for an 86-month prison sentence. Deviating from the guidelines, Judge Lisa K. Jansen of Hennepin County stayed Houghtaling’s entire 86-month prison sentence in March 2020. Since then, he has violated probation 3 times and has not yet been sent to prison. 

Career criminal Shaquille Dupree Lemons with 29 prior criminal convictions in the past 10 years, was convicted and on September 16, 2022 and charged with felon in possession of a firearm. The guidelines call for a 60 month prison sentence to which Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman objected departing from. Despite this, Judge Shereen M. Askalani stayed Lemons’ 60 month sentence stating he was “particularly amenable to treatment.” 

Despite Jonte Jamel Yates having 20 prior convictions in 3 different counties, Judge George Stephenson released him from Ramsey County Jail on $1,000 bail in 2020 pending sentencing for residential burglary. Country Attorneys Mike Freeman (Hennepin) and John Choi (Ramsey) failed to successfully argue the detention of Yates, and Judges Robert Small and Judge George Stephenson failed to hold Yates in custody despite his extensive record. Yates remained a fugitive for 2 years and is currently waiting sentencing for the burglary and multiple probation violations. 

Image source: Minneapolis Crime Watch & Information

August 2022 – Efrain Almestica was arrested by Hopkins Police Department for multiple in-progress burglaries (Reported by @CrimeWatchMpls on Twitter). Upon his arrest, police discovered Almestica had 12 felony and 4 misdemeanor arrest warrants for probation violations and failure to appear in court for multiple burglaries, a stolen vehicle, and feeling police. He was charged with burglary in the first degree and remains in custody on $250,000 bail. Previously, Almestica had several prison sentences “stayed” by Judge Garcia and workhouse sentences with “time served” imposed.

June 2022 – On May 6, 2022, Christopher Lee Keyes, 44, from Corcoran struck and killed an elderly driver making a turn, traveling at 95mph in a 45 mph zone in Plymouth. At the time of the crash, Keyes’ driving privileges were revoked due to driving violations (7 speeding convictions since Nov. 19). The Hennepin County Attorney’s office charged him with Criminal Vehicular Homicide. Despite Keyes’ disregard for life and safety, he was given a $150,000 bail by Judge Mary Vasaly which he secured the same day as his arrest. On June 3, Keyes was convicted for driving 88 mph in a 60 mph zone — less than one month after the crash. 

August 2022 – Rashad Jamal May, 23, has been identified as a suspect in the Mall of America shooting on August 4th. May was found guilty in April 2021 of Gross Misdemeanor Possession of a Firearm and sentenced to one day time served by Dakota County Judge Vicki Vial Taylor. 

August 2022 – Shamar Alon Ramon Lark has been identified as a suspect in the Mall of America shooting on August 4th. Lark was found guilty in April 2022 of gross misdemeanor Illegally Carrying a Handgun, but his 1-year sentence was stayed all but 2 days by Judge Kellie M. Charles. Bloomington PD reports that Lark remains at large. 

June 2022 – Laundell Jackson, 34, was sentenced in Mille Lacs County with felony fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.  Despite Jackson’s criminal record, Mille Lacs County Judge Mark Herzing sentenced Jackson to 22 months in prison, and then stayed the sentence and placed him on yet another probation for 3 years. 12 days later, despite being under the supervision of multiple courts and counties, Jackson murdered a woman in North Minneapolis in a drive-by shooting.  He is currently held in the Hennepin County Jail for a murder that may have been avoided if Jackson had been held accountable by our courts.

This case exemplifies the failure of our court system to remove repeat offenders from the general public and provide much-needed public safety. 

June 2022 – Cooke sodomized a juvenile family member for 8 years. He plead guilty to 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and was sentenced on June 6, 2022. The Sentencing Guidelines called for a 12-year sentence, but the prosecutor and Judge Jenny Walker Jasper agreed to a stayed sentence. Cooke is to serve 364 days in the Anoka County Jail, during which time he may be furloughed for Sex Offender Treatment, and 12 years probation.

July 2022 – The cases against Isaiah Jamal Foster, 19, of Richfield, are prolific, ranging over 3 metro counties beginning while Foster was a juvenile.  Since 2020 cases include armed car jackings, a violent purse snatching robbery of an elderly woman, domestic assault, motor vehicle theft, escape from custody, and financial transaction fraud. On June 13th, while in custody at the Hennepin County Jail, the County Attorney’s Office agreed to allow Foster to pled guilty to 3 aggravated robbery charges, and 1 motor vehicle theft charge, and dismissed the remaining charges against him. Judge Jay M. Quam accepted the plea agreement, and released Foster from custody on a zero bail, conditional release which included electronic home monitoring (EHM).  Foster was ordered to return to court on July 1 for sentencing.  He failed to return and has absconded from EHM. Judge Quam apologized to Foster’s many victims from the Bench.  On July 7, Foster was arrested by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. We will be monitoring whether the failure to abide by his conditional release has any consequences come sentencing. Stay tuned. 

July 2022 – Pablo Jaimes’ bail was inappropriately reduced to $100,000 at his initial hearing, despite shooting at 3 police officers at least 10 times. This inadequate bail, given the charges and his immigration status, failed to ensure his appearance in court. The court has had to issue another arrest warrant and has returned his bail amount to $5,000,000 if/when he is apprehended.  

June 2022 – The vehicular homicide (see below) triggered a probation violation from Olson’s previous DWI (2017) but when she appeared before Judge Karen Janisch, the Judge failed to take any consequential action in response to this violation. Stay tuned for an update as early as next week.

June 2022 – Tammy Renae Olson, 59, hit an 83-year-old woman in Brooklyn Center while driving intoxicated. Olson was charged with criminal vehicular operation, great bodily harm, and leaving the scene. The woman later died from her injuries. Judge Carolina Lamas ordered Olson to be held and set bail at $75,00 with conditions. Despite 4 previous DWI convictions, Hennepin County Probation proposed a conditional release at $40,000 with no conditions, except to not drive “at all.” Olson was bailed out of jail on June 4. 

June 2022 – On June 9, Daniel James Hart (23) reportedly shot and killed a man at a gas pump in Plymouth, MN, according to eyewitnesses and surveillance footage. Hart’s possession of a firearm was unlawful due to prior convictions of aggravated robbery, assault, and accomplice (2016 and 2017). The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged Hart with one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person and asked for only $100,000 bail. Hennepin County District Court Judge James Moore signed the complaint and issued a warrant for his arrest, signing off on only $100,000 bail. Hart turned himself in and immediately paid his bail thanks to the Bail Bond Doctor. He is set to appear in Zoom court on July 20th. The murder investigation is ongoing. Check back for updates.

June 2022 – Officers attempted to pull over Pablo Nava Jaimes, 30, on 35E for speeding. Jaimes fled officers with his pregnant wife in the car, reaching speeds of 100 mph and firing ten shots at pursuing officers. No officers were injured, and Jaimes was detained in White Bear Lake after fleeing on foot. At the time, Jaimes was wanted on a felony warrant for failing to show up to his hearing for possessing meth, open bottles of beer, and a loaded handgun when pulled over for speeding in December. According to ICE officials, he has been subject to 7 deportations in the past. Gov. Walz-appointed Judge Kellie Charles dropped his bail from $5 million to $100,000, which Jaimes was granted by “the Bail Bond Doctor.” On June 16th, 2022 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed they “encountered Jaimes at the Ramsey County Jail” where they put him on an immigration detainer, but never followed up with a warrant. Jaimes was released that same day.

August 2021 – Jason Savon Gunn fired 3 rounds into a car during a drive-by shooting in St. Paul, narrowly missing two children and two adults. 

County Attorney John Choi’s Office entered into an agreement to drop the drive-by shooting charge and accepted a plea for 2nd-degree assault. Judge Joy Bartscher went further than the plea agreement called for, sentencing Gunn to 120 home monitoring, with a Stay of Imposition which will drop the violent felony to a misdemeanor after 4 years of probation. Judge Bartscher was appointed by Governor Dayton in 2012 and her term expires in 2027. County Attorney Choi is up for re-election in November 2022. 

February 2022 – 10-time felon, Leon Kismit Bell, is wanted for allegedly holding a gun to a woman’s stomach at a Rosedale mall carjacking. His most recent felony conviction sentence was stayed by Judge Shawn M. Moynihan of Dakota County in September of 2021. A Ramsey County warrant is out for his arrest.

“If you see Bell please call 911 immediately and report it to your local law enforcement. A Ramsey County warrant has been issued for Bell. If you believe you have seen Bell in the past few weeks please message us. Use caution. Do not approach him.”

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

September 2021 – Leon Kismit Bell, who has at least 21 convictions since 1998, was convicted of felony theft and sentenced to 21 months in prison after he and an accomplice stole “full carts” worth of items from an Apple Valley Menards. Despite Bell’s lengthy record,  Judge Shawn M. Moynihan stayed his sentence and placed him on 5 years probation in September 2021. Bell went on to violate his probation in March 2022.

February 22, 2022 – A 15-year-old boy with “an extensive and violent criminal history” is under arrest for the random, fatal shooting of 34-year-old Julia (Yuliya) Li. She was found shot in her car in St. Paul and was taken to Regions Hospital where she later died. The teen is currently being held in Hennepin County Jail and has been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes he committed in St. Paul, according to police. The Ramsey County Attorney’s office filed a motion to have the teen certified to stand trial as an adult.

“Sadly, this is yet another example of how our system has failed to put victims first, failed to help a young person going down a dangerous and destructive path, and failed our entire community.”

-St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell

February 16, 2022 – After raping a 13-year-old girl he met at a Lakeville park, 18-year-old Brandon Corbett was given 10-year probation by Judge Jamie Cork. If the probation requirements are completed, his case will be discharged and the conviction deemed a misdemeanor, NOT a felony. Said Cork to Corbett, “You are a young man, so you can overcome this. You just need to do the work.” No victim impact statement was read in court.

January 3, 2022 – 18-year old Shevirio Kavirion Childs-Young, who has a “lengthy juvenile delinquency history involving assault and weapons offenses” was temporarily released from jail by Judge Regina Chu to attend a funeral. Despite Chu’s order to “report back” following the service, the juvenile declined to return. He had been charged in December with assaulting a police officer and illegally possessing a firearm. Childs-Young was captured by a police task force on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022. As WCCO reports:

After a month-long search, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office says members of its Violent Offender Task Force captured Shevirio Kavirion Childs-Young outside of a Brooklyn Center strip mall, with deputies having to box in and pin his car against a building when he tried to flee.

January 15, 2022 – James Allen Hage stole two U-Haul vehicles using an after-hours key drop box in Coon Rapids. He later came back and rented a vehicle — which he never returned — with a fraudulent credit card. This “lifelong offender” with “53 convictions stretching back to the age of 18” was conditionally released with zero bail, allowed to post a $10,000 bond the day of his arrest, and was released that same day without going before a judge.

January 12, 2022 – According to police reports, Coates was following a woman when she came to a Minneapolis Fire Station 8 asking for help. Coates ignored firefighters’ command to leave and then tried to run a firefighter over with his car, crashed into the station, then tried to “Square up” with an officer before being tackled to the ground. He was released from custody with zero bail by Judge Regina Chu.

June 2, 2021 – While on probation for a February 2021 felony conviction, Jackson Bruce Norby of Minnetonka robbed a Minneapolis convenience store via threats of explosives and chemical irritants. Norby was conditionally released by Judge Carolina A. Lamas with zero bail.

August 11, 2020 – After firing at a moving car in St. Paul with two women inside, Daezon Jaheem Burt’s three-year prison sentence was stayed and he was placed on probation. A second assault charge and a charge for fleeing police were both dismissed by Judge George Stephenson.

May 28, 2020 – After setting fire to a Minneapolis pawn shop during the George Floyd riots, Lee received a 10-year prison sentence (nearly half the time allotted by sentencing guidelines) from Judge Wilhelmina Wright. He received no charges for the death by burning of Oscar Lee Stewart, Jr., who was inside the pawnshop during the arson.

Do you have a Criminal Injustice example? Send it our way.

Email us at [email protected]


Minnesota’s Revolving Door Courthouses

Want to know why we’re worried about public safety? Ask the judges and prosecutors who keep returning thugs to our streets.

Read the Thinking Minnesota cover story.

News the Mainstream media won’t cover.

Click here to view recent public safety news

Daily Minnesota political news and commentary