Posted: 6:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
By Marcus K. Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Former Georgia Tech basketball standout Javaris Crittenton must remain home every night until his murder trial after allegedly intimidating the prosecutor of his case, a judge ruled Thursday.
And the recording of a jailhouse phone call in which Crittenton claimed to want to beat up the prosecutor was key in the judge’s decision to modify the former NBA player’s bond conditions.
The 29-year-old Crittenton, an alleged member of the Crips gang, is awaiting trial in the 2011 shooting death of Atlanta mother of four Julian Jones. He’s also accused of shooting at Trontavious Stephens days earlier – both cases of misdirected retribution at a rival gang, authorities said.
Crittenton is charged with murder, felony murder, criminal attempted murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, gun possession during the commission of a felony and participation in a criminal street gang.
In addition to forcing Crittenton to remain in his home from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. each day until trial, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua ordered him back on a 24-hour ankle monitor. He’d been off the monitor since March.
She also required him to get her permission to travel, and forbade him from coming within 100 yards of the Fulton County courthouse without a scheduled hearing there. She ordered that he be picked up immediately by law enforcement should his ankle monitor indicate any malfunctions or lack of connection.
Following the emergency hearing that ended just before 7 p.m. on Thursday, LaGrua ordered Crittenton to be in his Fayette County home no later than 8 p.m. that evening and to stay there until he could arrange with his attorney Brian Steel to set up the ankle monitor.
“Your actions in this case have been inexcusable,” LaGrua said of the incident and subsequent phone conversation. “Based on the phone call, it was clear that was his intention.”
According to prosecutors, while leaving a Sept. 19 bond hearing for his cousin and co-defendant Douglas Gamble – one in which Gamble failed to have his bond reduced from $230,000 – Crittenton followed and intimidated Gabe Banks, the assistant Fulton County district attorney prosecuting the murder trial.
“He was walking at a heightened pace,” Banks said in the emergency hearing. “At some point, he approached me, squared up on me, looked me up and down. He was no more than five or six feet away from me.”
Standing between Banks and Crittenton was Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Investigator Richard Randolph, a member of the agency’s gang unit who had been investigating Crittenton since last year.
“He was making a beeline to Mr. Banks,” Randolph said of Crittenton. “Even though I was standing between them, his gaze didn’t leave Gabe. He stopped, but he never took his eyes off Attorney Gabe Banks.”
While Randolph and Banks said that multiple people tugged at Crittenton to stop the encounter, Crittenton’s uncle Thomas Dobbs testified that he was the only person to gently pull his nephew’s arm to get him to walk away.
“His grandmother asked me to go and get him because she didn’t want him to get on that elevator with them,” Dobbs said.
But assistant district attorney Sheila Ross played for the court a phone conversation recorded between Crittenton and Gamble later that night while Gamble was still in the Fulton County Jail.
“I wanted to beat the (expletive) out of the DA … right there in the hallway,” a voice identified as belonging to Crittenton could be heard saying in the recording.
Steel acknowledged that his client’s words were troubling, but told the court that Crittenton ultimately didn’t follow through.
“I heard that tape this morning and I did not hear what I wanted to hear,” Steel said. “But he stopped himself. Nothing happened.”
Ross had filed a motion requesting that Crittenton’s $230,000 bond be revoked.
A time for Crittenton’s trial has yet to be determined.
Crittenton was allegedly armed with a high-powered rifle on Aug. 19, 2011, the night Jones was shot.
He was arrested several weeks later in Los Angeles and later released on bond.
Steel has proclaimed his client’s innocence since his arrest.
Police said Jones was struck by two of four high-caliber assault rifle bullets fired during the shooting – one of those bullets shattering her pelvis and thigh and fatally severing her femoral artery.
Five days before Jones’ death, a gunman fired on, but missed, Stephens from the driver’s seat of a Porsche. Prosecutors believe that gunman was Crittenton.
Both on the night of Jones’ death and on Aug. 14, when a gunman shot at Stephens, prosecutors said Crittenton was gunning for his brother, DeMontinez Stephens, a member of R.O.C. Crew, a local set of the Bloods gang.
Prosecutors said Crittenton was robbed at gunpoint by a rival gang member in April 2011 of more than $55,000 in jewelry, including a diamond watch, diamond necklace and iPhone.