Former Georgia Tech basketball star Javaris Crittenton, who police say joined a Los Angeles gang after being a first round draft pick of the NBA Lakers, was indicted Tuesday on murder charges, accused of killing an Atlanta mother of four while trying to strike retribution at a rival gang member.
Crittenton, 25, was named in a 12-count Fulton County grand jury indictment that includes charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, giving false statements, and participation in criminal street gang activity.
“He is involved with the Mansfield Gangster Crips, based out of Los Angeles,” Fulton County Assistant District Attorney and gang prosecutor Gabe Banks said. “This is very disconcerting to our office that gang activity extends beyond street level.”
Crittenton, 29, is accused, along with his cousin Douglas Gamble, of killing Julian Jones in an Aug. 19, 2011, drive-by shooting as she walked on an Atlanta street. Jones, prosecutors said, was an unintended target who was hit by a bullet meant for the person she was with.
Brian Steel, Crittenton’s attorney could not be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment, but has declared his client’s innocence since his 2011 arrest on the murder charge. He has been free on $230,000 bond. Prosecutors will negotiate an arrest or the terms of Crittenton’s continued release with his attorney.
In two separate incidents in August of 2011, prosecutors said Crittenton shot at people, seeking retribution at a rival gang member who robbed him earlier in the year.
Crittenton was allegedly armed with a high-powered rifle the night Julian Jones, 23, was shot.
Five days before Jones’ death, a gunman fired on, but missed, Demontinez Stephens from the driver’s seat of a Porsche. Prosecutors believe that gunman was Crittenton.
Both on the night of the Jones’ death, and on Aug. 14, when the gunman shot at Demontinez Stephens, prosecutors said Crittenton was gunning for his brother, Trontavious Stephens. Banks said Trontavious Stephens was a member of R.O.C. Crew, a local set of the Bloods gang. Trontavious Stephens has said he did not know Crittenton and had never seen him before the night Jones was shot.
Prosecutors said Crittenton was robbed at gunpoint in April 2011 of more than $55,000 in jewelry, including a diamond watch, diamond necklace and iPhone.
Prosecutors said that shortly after Crittenton signed a multi-million-dollar deal with the L.A. Lakers in 2007 he fell in with the Mansfield Gangster Crips.
“It is not uncommon for individuals involved in professional athletics to go out and join street gangs for protection,” Banks said.
And Banks said Crittenton’s gang involvement has linked him to another death in California.
“There will at some point during the trial be facts from a related murder investigation,” the prosecutor said. “He was not charged in that murder, but at some point was a witness in that murder … that involved the Mansfield Gangster Crips.”
Crittenton was named Mr. Georgia Basketball by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution while he played at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. He played one season with Georgia Tech before leaving school to go pro.