BRAINERD, Minn. -- “I was daddy’s gril and he gave me wahtevre I wantid and I mis my daddy But i know hes in my hart … I know my Daddy loved me soso much Why do you have to kile my daddy and soth my mom then if my mom ded i want have a mo or dad and I wad be sad.”
The handwritten note, written down by the 7-year-old daughter of Joseph Kroll and Chelsey Crawford, was among testimony offered Tuesday in the form Victim Impact Statements during the sentencing of the man who shot Kroll and Crawford.
Kroll and Crawford were both shot in the head on Jan. 4, 2015, at Crawford’s apartment on Juniper Street in Brainerd. Kroll died as a result of his wounds. Cronquist was seriously injured.
Tyler Allen Cronquist was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the crimes.
Kroll’s and Cronquist’s daughter, Hadley, was not present Tuesday in the Crow Wing County Judicial Center in Brainerd, but her mother read the words Hadley had written by herself. It was Hadley’s Victim Impact Statement, one of several read during a sentencing hearing for Cronquist.
The sentencing hearing came after last week’s plea hearing, where the 25-year-old Cronquist admitted guilt to second-degree murder with intent of shooting and killing Kroll; and second-degree attempted murder with intent, where he shot and seriously injured Crawford. Cronquist admitted he intended to shoot both victims with the intent to kill.
The original charges of felony first-degree murder with premeditation, attempted first-degree murder with premeditation and two assault charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
On Tuesday, Cronquist, wearing an orange, jail-issued jumpsuit and with his hands and legs in shackles, sat next to his public defender, Gregory Brooks Davis, and Carly Vosacek, the assistant public defender, when the statements were read. Cronquist’s family sat behind the defense in the gallery during the court proceedings.
Crawford, her family and Kroll’s family sat on the other side of the courtroom, behind Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, the prosecutor of the case.
Before the Victim Impact Statements were read, Judge Erik J. Askegaard reminded the courtroom that everyone must remain silent and not do anything that would be distracting during the court proceedings.
Through tears, Crawford read Hadley’s VIS that ended, “I Look Just Like MY Daddy so so much and When Momy thik abut Daddy she Cries a Lot.”
Crawford also read her 11-year-old child Korbin’s VIS: “I am lucky my mom is still alive and I miss Joey. When I see a church I have memories of my mom and Joey because mom used to take me there and Joey was there. I got to talk to him he was my step dad. I loved him.”
“I have traumatic brain injury. My life will never be the same. I have nightmares, flashbacks and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. My life will never be the same. Joey was taken from me and his daughters. Our daughter will never know her father, will never meet him, will only know him through stories shared and someday will read about his tragic ending from this world. Murdered by Tyler Cronquist. Our daughter Hadley, who just turned 6 when he was murdered, had come to me after and laid by my side saying she wanted to die because she wanted to be by her daddy.
“Tyler Cronquist stole his life from Hadley and and from all who loved him. I was left for dead. The intent was to murder me also. Every day I suffer pain -- emotional, physical and psychological pain . Tyler took my innocence like a rapist. I still fear for my life.
“I fought!! I fought to live!! I fought because I was given a chance to stay here. I was given a chance to fight for justice for Joey. Although there will never really be justice. I fought to stay here for my kids, to love although Joey will never get that chance. He was murdered and I was left to die … I chose to live and find a reason to move forward. I chose to better myself and my life. I will always keep Joey’s spirit alive. Today it is my turn to have a voice.”
“God gave me four reasons for living and Tyler took one of the very important reasons away from me. Since he murdered my son I can’t live each day without tremendous pain … I live each day in the darkness. I have been emotionally and physically dead. Joey was more than innocent for his life to be taken away. He wasn’t sick. He had his whole life ahead of him and Tyler shot him. Just because he didn’t like him. Joey was a father. His daughter was his whole life. Joey was a brother, uncle and most of all my beloved son. Right now, Tyler to me, you are worse than satan!
“None of us will ever be the same until we see Joey again one day. And he loved the Lord very much and I know he is in paradise. God says we are sheep among wolves in this life and Joey was a sheep and Tyler was a wolf. Twenty-five years is not nothing. He should lose his whole life like Joey did.”
(Read by a victim services advocate)
“When we saw Chelsey (in the hospital after the shootings), her face was swollen up, her head was partially shaved with a bandaged wounds and the rest of her hair covered in blood. She also had gunpowder residue running down her face. A nurse had told me what it was. When Hadley saw her mom it scared her. On our way out, I had to grab Hadley’s hand because she wanted to go to the other room to see her daddy. She said to me ‘Nana, where’re my daddy?’ I had to explain to her that her daddy died. I never told anyone but Hadley was supposed to be with her mom and dad the day of the shootings. Chesley was getting her hair dyed and she never called back. What would have happened to Hadley if she would have been there? Hadley sends up balloons with messages to her daddy. When they go out of sight she says daddy got it.
“After bringing Chelsey home, her dad, her oldest son and I had to go to the apartment that was the scene of the shootings to get her belongings. We all said a prayer, the emotions were so strong in all of us. We have had to go through a lot with Chelsey. Helping her, people blaming her for the shootings, threats toward her and parents not wanting their kids to play with Chelsey’s kids because they were scared. … We have become more leery and untrusting of people.”
“Joey was not only my brother, but my best friend. … The defendant’s decision to take the life of another human being with no regard for the effect it may have on others is unimaginable. What my poor mother has endured is beyond heart wrenching. To lose a child is going against nature. Can you imagine that child being taken away in such a horrific manner?
“Our family will be forever broken. This horrible feeling of despair becomes so overwhelming it takes my breath away.
“Joey was a good, honest loving man. He cared about people. He knew how to cheer you up no problem. … No amount of time served by Cronquist could ease the pain by this loss. But giving him the maximum sentence would be of some help.”
“Your honor, since Joey’s life was taken so suddenly on Jan. 4 last year, my world has seemed to be in a daze. We had a bond between a brother and sister I feel that is sometimes hard to come by. ... There is a lot of pain in life, but with a sudden loss like this, this type of pain can’t really be understood unless experienced. It has caused a lot of instability in my life. I’m now going through a divorce, been in and out of jail and suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s been a nightmare of a dream I wish I would wake up from. Fortunately, though with persistence and wanting to do right, I’ve been able to make my path straight again. … Joey said more times than one that he was praying for his enemies and that you just got to stay positive. In honor of him, I will do the same. His presence and words are more alive than ever before. … I just ask that justice be served.”
After the statements were read and before the judge sentenced Cronquist, he asked the defendant if he had anything to say. Cronquist stared straight ahead at the judge and said, “No.” Davis had no motions, but asked that Cronquist receive a credit of 639 days of time already served in his sentence.
Askegaard sentenced Cronquist to 306 months in prison for killing Kroll and another 153 months for the attempted murder charge, for a total of 459 months -- or just over 38 years in prison. The consecutive prison sentence was compliant with the Minnesota sentencing guidelines for Cronquist, which took into account his criminal history score and the nature of the crime.
Cronquist also was fined $1,085 and may also have to pay restitution.
After the sentencing was complete, Cronquist was taken back into custody and the family members left the courtroom.
“I’m glad it’s over with and we can finally move on with our lives,” Crawford said after Cronquist’s sentencing. “Now I don’t have to deal with it for another 25 years.
“I don’t think of myself as a victim. I’m a survivor. I’m not afraid to tell my story. … I’m free.”
Davis and Cronquist’s family did not want to comment on the sentencing.
Ryan said Cronquist’s sentence was appropriate and fair.
“Any evidence of premeditation was the weakest aspect of the case. I felt the evidence of intentional shooting which resulted in Joey’s death and the attempted murder of Chesley, I felt that was very strong. We discussed it all with the victims and we came to the conclusion it came to (the plea agreement.)
“It saved Chesley from having to testify again and saved all of the witnesses from testifying again and going through all of the unknowns (of a jury trial.)”
Ryan said, overall, he has a lot of respect for the justice system in the country.
“I think it is the finest justice system in the world and I know a lot of prosecutors say that and everybody thinks there they go again with all this gobbledygook and stuff again but in lots of places you are presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent, and we don’t do it that way.”