A Detroit Lakes man will serve more than 12 years in prison for the June 9, 2019, shooting death of a White Earth man at a graduation party near Strawberry Lake.
Ronald Wayne Elias Thompson III, 19, pleaded guilty July 2 to felony first-degree manslaughter felon in possession of a firearm.
He admitted causing the death of Jamie Lee Bevins Jr., 27, of White Earth.
According to court records, multiple witnesses identified Thompson as the shooter. He fled the scene and was arrested June 21 in St. Cloud, with a 9 mm pistol next to him at the time of his arrest. He was jailed on an outstanding warrant.
Thompson told an investigator he went to the party with a juvenile male and got into a physical fight at the party after sticking up for the younger boy.
Thompson said he was "jumped" at the party and, after the fight, he saw his younger companion holding a Glock handgun. He said he grabbed the handgun away from the younger boy because he “didn’t want anybody to get shot.”
He said he was trying to leave the party when he heard Bevins tell people not to let him and the younger boy leave. Thompson fired two shots in the air, according to court records, and everybody ran from the house, except Bevins, who “put his hands in the air,” because Thompson was aiming the Glock at him.
According to court records, Thompson admitted shooting Bevins during a struggle, but said he was being choked by Bevins at the time. When he turned around, he recognized Bevins as the person he had shot, he said.
Thompson, who admitted he is a member of the Native Mob criminal gang, said he fired three shots at the party and did not hear any other gunshots.
A female witness said Bevins was standing 5 to 7 feet away from Thompson when Thompson shot him.
Thompson admitted aiming the gun around after the shooting because he thought “more people would be coming,” according to court records.
In an earlier Forum News Service story, family members said Bevins was the party’s DJ and was sticking up for a younger brother who had gotten into a fight with Thompson.
According to Bevins' obituary, "he shared with family and friends his love for music, and was an artist at heart. He was very talented in wood burning and drawing." He also enjoyed the thrill of speed racing, and liked to race anything from bikes to four-wheelers to automobiles.
On Sept. 6, 2016, Thompson was adjudicated delinquent on felony charges of making terroristic threats and first-degree burglary, both crimes of violence, and he is not permitted to possess guns or ammunition for life.
Becker County Attorney Brian McDonald said the guilty pleas were a result of a plea agreement reached between the state and the defense. Under the agreement, Thompson was sentenced to the Minnesota Commissioner of Corrections for 146 months for the manslaughter charge and for 60 months for the firearm charge, to be served concurrently.
The plea agreement was reached after consulting with the investigating officers and the Bevins family, McDonald said. The agreement was made after accounting for possible defenses and issues that could be raised during trial. The agreement also ensures that the victim’s character was not scrutinized through the trial process.
“Most importantly, Ronald Thompson III admitted to causing the death of Jamie Bevins, Jr.,” McDonald said in a news release. “I would like to thank the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal
Apprehension, and the White Earth Tribal Police for their thorough investigation. I am hopeful that the conclusion of this matter will give some small measure of closure to the victim’s family,” he said.