A St. Paul man has been sentenced to 35 1/2 years in prison for his role in the ambush shooting death of Maplewood police sergeant Joe Bergeron on May 1.
Joshua Martin, 21, was sentenced Friday in Ramsey County District Court, after pleading guilty last month to aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder for his role in the shooting.
"There's nothing I can say that would bring back that cop," Martin said before the sentence was handed down. "I asked God to forgive me. I know he forgave me, and I ask the family to forgive me."
Martin said that he and an accomplice, 21-year-old Jason Jones, carjacked a man looking to buy marijuana but ran away when the man escaped to get help. The men eventually ran into Bergeron, who was in his squad responding to the carjacking.
Martin told police Jones shot Bergeron. Jones was shot and killed by police in the ensuing manhunt.
Bergeron's nephew, Mike Duzan, spoke on behalf of the family at Friday's sentencing hearing. Duzan, a sergeant in the Chaska Police Department, told the court that he himself had been on duty that morning, and heard the radio traffic as the police pursued Bergeron's killer. Only later did he realize it was his uncle who had been killed.
While watching news covereage of the event later in the day, Duzan said he realized he had seen Martin before. Martin had visited Duzan's church as part of a group called Minnesota Teen challenge, to talk about how the group helps rehabilitate young people who had run afoul of the law.
"I listened to the presentation from Minnesota Teen Challenge, and I even wrote them a check," Duzan said.
Duzan said he later saw a photo of Martin again in news coverage of Bergeron's death. "Later that horrible day, I realized this is a man that I'd personally tried to help," said Duzan.
"It's up to you to make sure that Mr. Martin's final wasted chance is this one," Duzan told the judge. "Please put this monster away from us for as long as the guidelines allow."
Maplewood Police Chief Dave Thomalla said he thought Bergeron would have taken comfort that the case ended quickly and fairly.
"He would want justice, and that's what we heard today," Thomalla said. "Josh Martin pleaded guilty. He did the right thing, as far as admitting what he did. He didn't do the right thing on May 1, but Sgt. Bergeron would have been grateful for that."
Bergeron left behind a wife and two 13-year-old daughters when he was killed.