According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a Fulton County judge Tuesday found probable cause to charge former Georgia Tech basketball star, Javaris Crittenton, with murder in the drive-by shooting death of Julian Jones in southwest Atlanta (pictured at right).
Crittenton was taken into custody on August 30 by the FBI at LAX airport in Los Angeles as he prepared to board a flight to Atlanta to turn himself in.
A Fulton County Superior Court Judge granted Crittenton a $230,000 bond, requiring him to wear an ankle monitor until the case is tried on October 25th, according to the AJC.
“I guess the judge made the decision that he’s not a danger to the community, which is odd, given the charges,” said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. “It's not unheard of, but it's rare.”
Porter noted that Crittenton fled Atlanta for LA once he learned he was wanted on murder charges.
But Crittenton's college girlfriend, Mia Fields, who moved out to LA with him when he was drafted by the Lakers, told the judge that Crittenton wasn't fleeing from the law. She said he was on his way to LA to celebrate her birthday.
“He was with me the entire time,” she testified. “He was paralyzed in fear. He was trying to find a lawyer to prove his innocence.”
Crittenton’s attorney, Brian Steel presented the judge with a petition containing 1,000 signatures, and dozens of family and friends showed up in court to support Crittenton. Among them were his 7th grade teacher and former Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt.
Hewitt said he spoke with Crittenton by phone on the afternoon of Aug. 19, hours before Jones was shot.
He said Crittenton's attitude was not that of someone contemplating murder. “He was very upbeat.”
But two witnesses placed Crittenton at the scene of the shooting. And a rented black Chevy Tahoe truck that was involved in the shooting was later traced back to Crittenton.
One of the witnesses, a male teenager named Trontavious Stevens, was walking with Jones at the time of the shooting. Police believe Crittenton was gunning for Stevens whom he suspected had robbed him of a diamond watch, diamond necklace and an iPhone, valued at more than $55,000, in April.
“He got a good, clear look at him,” Atlanta police homicide Detective James Thorpe Jr. said of Stevens.
Thorpe testified that Ms. Jones, a mother of four, was struck by two of four high-caliber bullets fired from an assault rifle, similar to an AK 47. One bullet grazed her upper right thigh. The other bullet shattered her pelvic bone, tearing though her femoral artery. She died following surgery.
Thorpe testified that Stevens told police he saw a black Chevy Tahoe drive by, then double back and stop. A man rolled down the rear driver’s side window and fired four times from a semi-automatic rifle.
Another witness also testified that he saw the black Chevy Tahoe on the street that night. Both men said they had previously seen Crittenton prowling their neighborhood, apparently looking for Stevens.
Crittenton is no stranger to the law. The 6-5 shooting guard pleaded guilty in January 2010 to a misdemeanor gun possession charge following a locker room altercation with teammate Gilbert Arenas.
An elementary school friend of Crittenton testified that Javaris "felt threatened" by Arenas and he took action to defend himself.
Thorpe alluded to the fact that Crittention had a habit of taking the law into his own hands.
Thorpe said during the investigation into the theft of Crittenton's jewels, he told a detective, "I’ll just handle this myself.”
The detective noted Crittenton's statement in the robbery report.
The prosecution painted Crittenton as a loose canon who might do harm to the state's two witnesses. “The state’s evidence will show that this is about revenge,” said Assistant Fulton County District Attorney Jack Barrs. “There are at least two people to whom he does pose a significant risk.”
As of Tuesday night, Crittenton still hadn't posted bond.