The fuzzy cellphone footage shows a camo-clad man with a short-clipped ginger beard, his face darting in and out of frame as he freestyles from behind the wheel:
“They know I get crazy, man, and that’s good riddance —
to the people who did me wrong, yeah I’m blowing out their pigments.”
The words of Stephen Garnes-Toelle weren’t empty swagger.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Christopher Marshall sentenced Garnes-Toelle to 20 years in state prison Thursday for killing a man hours after he recorded the ruthless rhymes.
Garnes-Toelle, now 32, had become convinced his former girlfriend had told another man to burglarize his apartment while Garnes-Toelle was out gambling to celebrate his birthday, according to a bail memo written by prosecutors.
A surveillance camera inside his apartment showed the thief talking on the phone; Garnes-Toelle decided the voice on the other end must have been Amy Percival, who had been living with him until the relationship soured.
He posted a video of the thief on social media with a chilling comment: “I’m ready to go back to the old me,” according to a screenshot included in court papers. “I’ve missed him so.”
Garnes-Toelle drove around, rapping without accompaniment that he was “out here head hunting” and implied he had been drinking and was sitting with a gun in his lap as he filmed himself, according to video shown during a bail hearing.
He was on probation and had been permanently banned from driving for a previous felony DUII conviction at the time, records show.
Prosecutors said Garnes-Toelle sent the video to his father.
According to defense attorneys, Percival had already dumped some of the missing items outside Garnes-Toelle’s apartment and decided to come clean. She brought along her friend, Dusty Baker — who hadn’t been involved in the robbery — for protection, the defense attorneys wrote in court documents.
Around 2 a.m. Sept. 30, 2022, Garnes-Toelle approached Percival and Baker as they sat in her white Mercury van in the parking lot of the Cedar Tree Apartments on Southeast 148th Avenue in Portland.
Garnes-Toelle unloaded a handgun into Baker, 35, as he sat in the passenger seat. Percival sped off toward a hospital, where Baker died. Police arrested Garnes-Toelle later that day at his mother’s apartment in Happy Valley, but never recovered the gun used in the killing.
While in custody, Garnes-Toelle asked fellow Inverness Jail inmate Brandon Dixon to claim that Baker was armed during the killing, according to prosecutors, leading to witness tampering charges filed in January.
Dixon told investigators that Garnes-Toelle knew he had shot the wrong man, but said he did it out of “frustration,” according to prosecutors’ summary of events.
Both criminal cases against Garnes-Toelle were resolved with a guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter as part of a deal with prosecutors.