Public Safety

16-year-old pleads in drug robbery that ended in death for his cousin

He is eligible for deferred judgment because of his age

Andrew Dontae Gaston (Photo courtesy of Metro High School)
Andrew Dontae Gaston (Photo courtesy of Metro High School)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 16-year-old pleaded to a lesser charge Monday in a drug robbery that turned deadly for his 18-year-old cousin.

Tyrell J. Gaston, originally charged with first-degree robbery, pleaded in Linn County District Court to second-degree robbery. His other charges of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance-marijuana, carrying weapons and obstructing prosecution will be handled in juvenile court.

Gaston, who pleaded in person Monday, admitted that he had a specific intent to commit a theft and assault on Kyler Carson, then 17 years old, on Jan. 24. He also admitted that he planned to rob Carson of marijuana and threatened to put him in harm of serious injury by approaching him from behind in a “sneaky way.”

A criminal complaint showed police responded to a report of shots being fired at 11:48 p.m. Jan. 24 and found Tyrell Gaston and his cousin, Andrew Gaston, with gunshot wounds in the parking lot of 3217 Agin Ct. NE.

During the investigation, police learned Tyrell and Andrew Gaston had arranged, with the help of others, to rob Carson that night. Witnesses told investigators they contacted Carson and “lured” him to the address to rob him.

Carson thought he was making a drug sale of $900 for 45 tubes of marijuana, the complaint showed.

Authorities said while Carson was delivering marijuana to the others in their car, the cousins and a third person ambushed Carson from behind.

Andrew Gaston struck Carson in the back of the head with a metal object, according to the complaint. Carson turned around and exchanged gunfire with Tyrell Gaston before running from the parking lot, witnesses told police.

Andrew Gaston was shot and died at the scene. Tyrell Gaston had a gunshot injury to his ankle.

According to the complaint, Carson and Tyrell Gaston later discarded their firearms, which police didn’t recover.

Tyrell Gaston, in his plea, didn’t admit to having a weapon.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter, during the hearing, said she has agreed to delay sentencing for a year, while Gaston completes probation on the juvenile charges. If he completes his probation without violations, she will recommend a deferred judgment on the robbery charge, as part of the plea agreement.

Gaston is eligible for a deferred judgment because he is a juvenile.

Slaughter also said if he doesn’t do well on probation, she may recommend he serve up to 10 years in prison on the robbery conviction.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson said he would delay sentencing until after Gaston’s 18th birthday. He reminded Gaston the “ball’s in your court, and if you don’t do well” on probation, the prosecutor won’t give a favorable recommendation.

Carson, now 18, who was ordered last week to be under house arrest, is charged with voluntary manslaughter, delivery of a controlled substance-marijuana, carrying weapons and obstructing prosecution.

He is accused of fatally shooting Andrew Gaston, as Gaston and Tyrell Gaston attempted to steal marijuana from Carson, according to a criminal complaint.

Carson, while out on pretrial release, picked up additional charges of operating while intoxicated and unlawful possession of an anti-anxiety drug, and Anderson restricted him to house arrest pending trial.

Carson must remain at his grandmother’s home, where he is living, at all times, and wear an electronic ankle monitor. He can leave the home only for meetings with his lawyer, court hearings, medical and substance abuse treatment, and other “leave” as approved by the 6th Judicial District Department of Corrections, the ruling states.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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