MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 24-year-old Minneapolis man who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Deonte Lawson was found guilty of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of kidnapping.
According to the criminal complaint, a young woman was retrieving something from the trunk of her car on the night of Oct. 15, 2017, or the morning of Oct. 16 in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis when Lawson, Darius Freeman and Wayne Armstrong forced her into the car at gunpoint and took her credit cards.
Prosecutors say they took her to a secluded wooded area where they sexually assaulted her. She later told investigators she thought they were going to kill her.
The three suspects then drove her toward Washington County, but the woman reportedly convinced them to stop for gas in Scandia. There, she escaped and ran from the car to an apartment above the gas station where she awoke the residents by shouting for help. Eventually, the complaint says, the three suspects gave up searching for her and drove away.
“I am smarter, braver and stronger than Mr. Lawson ever counted on,” the young woman wrote in her victim impact statement, which was read by a victim advocate at Tuesday’s sentencing. “I am a survivor. And I know I am not his first victim, but I am going to make damn sure I am his last. Mr. Lawson is nothing more than a monster. I looked him in the eyes during my testimony and I saw the cold, evil, lifelessness I remember seeing in Oct. 2017.”
Armstrong, who was 17 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Lawson. He was not called testify. He will be sentenced Friday as an adult and is expected to get 144 months in prison.
Freeman, who was 16 at the time, also pleaded guilty and did testify against Lawson. He is also expected to get 144 months when he is sentenced at the end of the month.
The DNA of Lawson, Armstrong and Freeman connected them to the crime.