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Survivor now can move on: Cronquist pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder

Chelsey Crawford is a survivor. Not just of a gunshot wound to the head she suffered on Jan. 4, 2015, at her Brainerd apartment but of having to wait nearly two years for justice to be served on the man who pulled the trigger. Crawford now can mo...

Tyler Allan Cronquist
Tyler Allan Cronquist

Chelsey Crawford is a survivor.

Not just of a gunshot wound to the head she suffered on Jan. 4, 2015, at her Brainerd apartment but of having to wait nearly two years for justice to be served on the man who pulled the trigger.

Crawford now can move on with her life.

"I'm glad it's done," Crawford said after sitting in Crow Wing County District Court Monday where the man behind the shooting, 25-year-old Tyler Allan Cronquist, admitted he intentionally shot her and her boyfriend Joseph Kroll with an intent to kill them. Crawford was seriously injured and Kroll died as a result of his wounds.

Jury selection was expected to begin Monday for Cronquist. However, a plea agreement was reached instead. Cronquist, charged for the 2015 double shooting at an apartment on the 800 block of Juniper Street in Brainerd, pleaded guilty to the shootings.

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"It's been a long road and I've been through a lot," said Crawford, surrounded by her family outside the Crow Wing County Judicial Center in Brainerd after Cronquist's plea hearing. "I now can try to put the pieces together without Joey here. I finally got what I was waiting for."

Crawford thanked the community and people who have supported her since the 2015 double shooting.

"Their support has kept me strong and I feel truly blessed," she said.

Cronquist, wearing an orange, jail-issued jumpsuit and with his hands and legs in shackles, was escorted to Courtroom 5 where he appeared before Judge Erik J. Askegaard. Public Defender Gregory Brooks Davis, representing Cronquist, and Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, the prosecutor of the case, also were present in court.

During the plea hearing, Cronquist admitted guilt to second-degree murder with intent and second-degree attempted murder with intent. The original charges of felony first-degree murder with premeditation, attempted first-degree murder with premeditation and two assault charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

The victims were both in agreement with the plea deal, Ryan said.

Judge Askegaard asked Cronquist to rise, raise his right hand to answer a series of questions, including making sure Cronquist understood the agreement, understood what he was pleading guilty to and being convicted of, if he had enough time to speak with his attorney about the agreement, that he was not under the influence or has a mental illness, and if he understood he is giving up his right to a jury trial. Cronquist answered "yes" to all the questions.

Cronquist's defense team then asked him a series of questions about the night of the 2015 double shooting. Cronquist again answered "yes" to all the questions.

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Cronquist admitted to:

• Being at Crawford's Juniper Street apartment the night of the shootings;

• That Kroll was also in the apartment;

• That there was a stand-off between Nathan David Becker, 26, Brainerd, and Kroll;

• That he and Becker went into the bathroom, where Becker gave him a gun;

• And that he shot both Crawford and Kroll with the intent to kill them both.

Becker, who also was charged in the case, was found not guilty in May by a Crow Wing County jury. He was charged with aiding and abetting Cronquist with the shootings. During Becker's jury trial, Crawford testified Cronquist and Becker went into the bathroom together and she thought they were doing drugs. When they came out of the bathroom, Becker was pulling up his black overall bibs and Cronquist stayed in the kitchen.

Crawford testified that as she tried to strike up a conversation with Becker, Kroll had a phone call so he stood up and turned. When he did that, she said Cronquist walked into the living room and she heard a "pop" and Kroll fell to the ground. Crawford ran over to Kroll and yelled at Cronquist, asking what he had done. She said she was going to get out of the apartment and call 911 for help. When she turned around, Cronquist walked up to her and shot her.

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Becker's attorney said during his trial that evidence will never show that Becker had the gun.

On Monday, both attorneys waived the right to have a presentencing investigation done. Ryan told the court that the Minnesota sentencing guidelines for Cronquist, when looking at his criminal history score and the nature of the crime, is 306 months for second-degree murder with intent charge and 153 months for the attempted second-degree murder with intent, for a total of 459 months, or just over 38 years.

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 4.

Cronquist will remain in the Crow Wing County Jail until sentencing.

Related Topics: CRIME
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