A Brooklyn Park man who charges say seriously and permanently injured an 11-year-old girl after she exited a school bus in north Minneapolis in May had been convicted of several crimes in the recent past, including two felonies, that should have put him in prison. Instead, he was given stayed or reduced sentences and released from custody on probation in all the cases.
On the afternoon of May 3, 2019, Gregory Jamal Garth drove around a stopped school bus and struck a child as she crossed the street after exiting the bus, according to the criminal complaint filed last month. A witness said the girl was thrown into the windshield of Garth’s vehicle and was propelled into the air and landed in the middle of the street.
Garth was detained at the scene and officers observed that he smelled of alcohol and performed poorly on field sobriety tests and exhibited signs of impairment. Approximately three hours later, a blood draw was executed after obtaining a warrant. A subsequent analysis of the sample found Garth’s alcohol concentration to be .0777. The blood sample also tested positive for cocaine and THC, a chemical found in marijuana that can alter thinking, senses and impair motor functions.
Garth had been convicted on May 24, 2018, on a gross misdemeanor charge of third-degree DWI – refusal to submit to a breath test and was sentenced to 365 days in jail. However, that sentence was stayed by Ramsey County Judge Robert Awsumb, and Garth was alternatively sentenced to the 18 days he’d already served in jail during the course of the case and was released on probation.
Not even two months prior, on April 4, 2018, Garth had been convicted on a felony charge of violating a no-contact order and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, that sentence was stayed by Ramsey County Judge Richard H. Kyle, Jr., and Garth was alternatively sentenced to 30 days in jail and was given credit for six days already served and placed on probation.
In March 2017, Garth was convicted on a felony charge of domestic assault. Under the terms of a plea agreement in the case, Garth was given a stay-of-imposition by Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan, Jr., meaning the felony sentence was not imposed. Garth was alternatively sentenced to the six days he’d already spent in jail during the course of the case and was released on probation.
Garth also had two other convictions in 2012 and 2013 for domestic abuse involving violation of a no contact order and domestic assault, respectively. He received a reduced sentence on the 2012 conviction – 90 days reduced to 10 days, and was sentenced to time already served on the 2013 domestic assault conviction. Garth also has a 2016 conviction for damage to property and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but that sentence was reduced to only three days. All of the cases were in Ramsey County.
The 11-year-old victim who was nearly killed in the May school bus incident was subsequently identified as Shianne Dean. She was admitted to the hospital with life threatening injuries including brain swelling, hematomas, respiratory failure, a skull fracture, a broken arm and several other injuries. She underwent emergency surgery to remove parts of her skull to relieve the swelling and remained in a coma for ten days. She was eventually transferred to Gillette Children’s Hospital and is expected to suffer permanent memory loss and physical issues a result of the crash, the criminal complaint said.
Garth, 60, was released from custody without charges three days after the crash. Formal charges were filed in July and Garth was arrested on warrant on July 31. Garth is charged with three felony counts of criminal vehicular operation involving great bodily harm and under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances. The maximum penalty listed on each count is up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Garth pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday and remains in custody at Hennepin County Jail on $75,000 bail. The case is scheduled for a jury trial on Oct. 28.
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