Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Javaris Crittenton indicted on murder, gang activity charges tied to Atlanta woman’s death

Javaris Crittenton — the former Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards guard best known by NBA fans for his infamous firearms-in-the-locker-room confrontation with teammate Gilbert Arenas in 2009 — was indicted Tuesday in connection with the 2011 death of a 22-year-old woman and the attempted murder of another young man.

The 25-year-old former Georgia Tech star and 2007 NBA first-round pick's grim news comes to us from The Associated Press:

Julian Jones — a mother of two — was shot and killed in southwest Atlanta while walking with a group of people in August 2011. Authorities say that incident and a second shooting were gang-related. Officials say the shootings may have been retaliation after Crittenton was the victim of a robbery in which $50,000 worth of jewelry was stolen.

Crittenton's cousin, Douglas Gamble, was also charged in the 12-count indictment.

Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution delved into greater detail on the robbery in question in a jarring Sept. 2011 feature:

The barbershop on Cleveland Avenue was supposed to be a safe haven from the trials of the world, a familiar, old-neighborhood haunt where Crittenton had been getting shorn since he was a little boy and where the men accepted him as he was.

Yet, even there, he would come to feel like a target.

As Crittenton and a friend walked out of the shop late on the evening of April 21, they were ambushed by two young men who, at gunpoint, hustled them into Crittenton’s car and ordered them to hand over all they had. Crittenton reported to police the teens took a black diamond watch worth $30,000, a black diamond necklace worth $25,000, an iPhone and a small amount of cash.

Flash forward to the night of Aug. 19. As Jullian Jones strolled with others near her home on Atlanta’s Macon Drive, a black SUV pulled up nearby. Witnesses say shots were fired from inside the car. One struck Jones, 22, in the hip. She died later at the hospital.

Upon issuing a warrant for Crittenton’s arrest on Aug. 26, police said that he was in the SUV and had recognized a young man with Jones as one of those who had robbed him four months earlier. The bullet that killed Jones allegedly was meant for him.

Prior to the robbery and shooting, Crittenton had been working to find a way back into the NBA, something he'd repeatedly tried without success following the Dec. 21, 2009, standoff with Arenas — which, for those who've forgotten, reportedly stemmed from Crittenton losing a $1,100 pot to then-teammate JaVale McGee in the card game Bourré. This led to the 6-foot-5 guard allegedly yelling at McGee, Arenas allegedly stepping in, Crittenton allegedly threatening Arenas with gunfire, a threat that Arenas apparently gleefully courted. Days after the squabble, Arenas famously brought four guns into the locker room, along with a note imploring Crittenton to "PICK 1" to use in carrying out his threat to shoot Arenas. Crittenton reportedly chose instead to brandish his own firearm in the locker room, which, y'know, escalates things.

Everything got pretty messed up after that. Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the 2009-10 season for the incident; thanks to a combination of injuries, role changes and declining skills, Arenas never again regained his All-Star status. Crittenton never played in the NBA again, getting cut in training camp by the Charlotte Bobcats prior to the 2010 season, heading over to China to ply his trade before returning to the states after a few weeks, and spending 21 games with the D-League's Dakota Wizards prior to the fateful robbery.

Whether the Arenas incident pushed Crittenton over some psychological edge that led him to seek revenge after being robbed, or whether everything that's come since (including a February 2012 arrest for speeding and refusing to get out of his Porsche when told to by police) is merely a case of fickle fate, Crittenton will now have the opportunity to clear his name in Fulton County District Court.

"Mr. Crittenton and I look forward to proceeding to a jury trial, where the jury will be able to hear and see all of the evidence and reach a lawful, just, and proper verdict of not guilty," Crittenton's attorney, Brian Steel, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

No trial date has yet been set.

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