Plymouth man pleads guilty to murder in connection with shoe sale that turned fatal

A Plymouth man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday in connection with a shoe sale that led to a fatal shooting.

Twenty-year-old Augustus Matthew Sirleaf was charged with two counts of second-degree murder on Nov. 21, 2022, in connection with the death of 17-year-old Yaseen Thomas Johnson.

Sirleaf pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in exchange for the dismissal of the second count and 23 years (276 months) in prison, according to court filings. His sentencing is now set for Jan. 2.

On Nov. 14, 2022, officers from the Plymouth Police Department were called to the 9000 block of 37th Place just before 6 p.m. on a report of a shooting and a victim slumped over in a vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint states that officers found Johnson unresponsive and without a pulse in the vehicle. Shortly after arriving, a witness approached police and told them he was in the passenger seat when Johnson was shot and fled the scene.

Yaseen Thomas Johnson (Courtesy: Minnesota Teen Activists)

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The witness told law enforcement that he and Johnson were planning on meeting up with Sirleaf and a man named Hans Madave to buy an expensive pair of shoes. When the witness and Johnson arrived, the two men got into the car. The witness said that Sirleaf gave Johnson one of the shoes to inspect and Johnson paid him half of the money.

After Johnson decided he liked the shoes, he paid Sirleaf, who then told Johnson to also give him the shoe back. The witness told police that when Johnson resisted, Sirleaf pulled a gun and shot him.

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During an investigation of the scene, officers found a shoe just outside the passenger’s side of the vehicle and a matching shoe on the floorboard of the passenger’s side. Two cartridge casings were also found outside the driver’s side of the vehicle and one more was found inside the rear of the driver’s side.

Surveillance video showed two males get into a Ford Escape and then flee shortly after the shooting. Investigators tracked down the Escape and the owner’s son told police he was with Sirleaf and Madave and the latter two were planning a robbery. He added that he saw Sirleaf with a pistol as they left to go to the meeting.

According to the complaint, the Escape owner’s son said he waited in the Escape while Sirleaf and Madave went to the meet-up and when Madave got back to the vehicle, he said that Sirleaf had fired his gun. When he got into the Escape, Sirleaf allegedly claimed that he “had no choice but to shoot.” The three then went back to Sirleaf’s apartment.

Madave took a plea deal last week that would have him spend 12 to 15 years in prison for his role. His sentencing is set for Jan. 12.

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