Minneapolis man, 19, gets 10 years in federal prison for armed carjacking spree across Twin Cities

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A young Minneapolis man who authorities said embarked on an armed carjacking spree and high-speed pursuit through residential neighborhoods last March has been sentenced to a decade in federal prison.

Javon Thomas Wilson-Branch, 19, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,100 in restitution to the victims of three violent carjackings committed within a 12-hour period, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger announced Thursday.

“This individual put several lives at risk by going on an armed carjacking spree and evading law enforcement by driving 120 miles per hour through a residential neighborhood,” Luger said in a statement. “This case offers a snapshot of a disturbing trend of violent and reckless behavior. Wilson-Branch’s spree is one of the reasons our office has focused our resources on prosecuting violent carjacking cases.”

According to court documents, on March 16, 2023, at approximately 8 p.m.,Wilson-Branch and another man pulled up beside two people unloading groceries from a Mercedes-Benz SUV in Minneapolis and robbed them by pointing an assault-style rifle at them. He demanded the victims turn over their belongings and the keys to the SUV before he and his co-conspirator drove away.

Eight hours later, at around 4 a.m., he and another man, pulled the Mercedes SUV up to a Toyota Highlander in Minneapolis, pointed a gun at the driver and demanded the vehicle’s keys. After robbing the occupants, Wilson-Branch then got into the Toyota and drove it away.

An AirTag online tracking device inside the Toyota located it in St. Paul, where it was abandoned about a half-hour later at 4:30 a.m. and recovered by police.

Another 30 minutes later, at approximately 5 a.m., Wilson-Branch and the other man held up the driver of an Audi A6 with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and the assault rifle. Both men robbed the driver of his keys, wallet and phone and forced the driver to unlock his cellphone. Later they used the unlocked phone to transfer money from the victim’s bank account into Wilson-Branch’s account and other accounts. Wilson-Branch drove away in the Audi.

About 30 minutes later, St. Paul police officers spotted both the carjacked Mercedes and Audi near Maryland and Western avenues. When officers attempted to stop the vehicles, both drivers fled, leading officers on a high-speed pursuit through neighborhoods and then onto freeways.

Two days later, officers from the Woodbury Police Department spotted the Audi in a mall parking lot and arrested Wilson-Branch after a brief foot chase. Two of the guns used in the carjacking, both fully loaded with high-capacity magazines and a stolen box of ammunition, were found inside the car along with the keys to the Toyota.

Wilson-Branch, who had an extensive criminal record as a juvenile, pleaded guilty on Aug. 4 to two counts of aiding and abetting carjacking, and admitted to aiding and abetting a third carjacking. He was sentenced in St. Paul by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty.

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