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Hutchinson man sentenced to 15 years for rural Grove City shooting death

Christian James Brown, 23, agreed to plead guilty to a felony charged of second-degree unintentional murder while committing a felony. Two felony second-degree assault charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. He was sentenced to 180 months in prison.

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Christian James Brown

HUTCHINSON — A Hutchinson man was sentenced Monday to 180 months, or 15 years, in prison for the February shooting death of a rural Grove City man.

As part of a plea agreement, Christian James Brown, 23, agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of second-degree unintentional murder.

District Court Judge Stephanie L. Beckman credited Brown with 210 days served and ordered him to provide a DNA sample when directed. Brown was also ordered to pay $140 in fees and fines.

Two felony second-degree assault charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

His co-defendant, Byron James Jackson, 23, of Hutchinson, agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of aiding an offender after the fact of an unintentional murder and will serve 180 months in prison for his role in the death.

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Jackson was initially charged with three felonies — first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault — in connection with assaults prior to the shooting. Two additional felony charges were added in July: aiding second-degree murder and the aiding an offender charge to which he pleaded guilty last week.

The four other felony charges will be dismissed at sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 20.

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Byron James Jackson

During his July 30 plea hearing, Brown admitted to shooting Devon Remmel, 42, during a scuffle after an apparent botched drug deal. Remmel's brother was injured in the altercation.

Brown testified previously in front of Beckman that when he fired the gun, he intended to kill Remmel.

In May, the handgun used to kill Remmel was found by a Forest City Township farmer. The firearm, a Kimber model Stainless II .45-caliber automatic pistol, was owned by Brown.

In June, testing by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed that the bullet that killed Remmel was fired from the handgun owned by Brown.

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According to court documents, Brown and Jackson arrived at a residence Feb. 26 in Acton Township to buy cocaine for a party when an argument and physical altercation ensued involving an unnamed victim and Remmel's brother, who lives at the residence about 2 miles south of Grove City.

Jackson punched Remmel's brother during the altercation, causing him to fall to the ground injuring his shoulder.

Both Brown and Jackson brandished semi-automatic pistols and threatened the lives of both the other men before leaving the house, according to the documents.

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The unnamed victim attempted to bring Remmel's brother to the hospital but was blocked by Brown and Jackson's vehicle which was itself blocked by Remmel's vehicle when he arrived at the residence.

Remmel and Jackson were engaged in an altercation when Remmel's brother left his vehicle and Jackson attacked him, knocking Remmel's brother to the ground.

At this point, Brown shot Remmel in the head, according to Brown's testimony during his plea hearing.

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Brown and Jackson located the spent cartridge and left the scene.

When Meeker County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived on scene, they attempted CPR on Remmel but he was pronounced deceased around 11:15 p.m. Feb. 26, about 30 minutes after the original 911 call was placed.

Remmel's brother was taken to a local medical facility by ambulance late that night and was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and a broken bone.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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