The Fall of the House of Tucker

After his son committed murder, a retired St. Paul cop had to choose between blood and justice

Tucker says his decision to work in such conflict-rich environments is not as strange as it seems. As a military policeman in Iraq, he had to interpret body language and read people for signs of violent intent. In security work, he says, he drew on the same skill set. "I was in a comfort zone. It was a different type of stress than the corporate world. I could kind of dictate how things were going to go. I could see things coming."

At Johnny A's, he developed a reputation for being polite and professional. At the end of shifts, he escorted female bartenders to their cars.

There was another thing a lot of people at Johnny A's noticed about Clem Jr.: Unlike the vast majority of bar bouncers, Tucker wore a bulletproof vest to work. A permit holder, he virtually always carried a sidearm—a .45 or a 9 mm, sometimes both.

Robin Eley

Behind the coolheaded facade, Clem Jr. was troubled. He'd been arrested three times and convicted once on drunken driving charges. After nine months of sobriety in Iraq, he wasn't drinking as heavily as in the past. But he did seek relief in another pursuit: women.

Although he was engaged at the time, Tucker considered himself a single man. To his way of thinking, he was free to keep women on the side. "When I came back, I just wanted to live my life as much as I could," he says. "I made moral mistakes. I shouldn't have been messing with other women when I had a good woman at home."

ONE NIGHT IN January 2005, CJ was hanging out at Johnny A's on his night off when he met a 27-year-old woman named Angelina Garley.

"She was extremely beautiful. Dressed like a lady. Acted like a lady," he recalls. "When we talked, we had good intellectual conversations."

For Garley, the chunky ex-Marine must have seemed like a fresh start. After an eight-year relationship that had culminated in marriage and two children, Angelina and her husband, Nehemiah Garley, parted ways. The breakup turned nasty, with Nehemiah getting a restraining order. After she was convicted of disorderly conduct, Angelina enrolled in the Homefree Domestic Abuse Intervention Program.

Angela Kasperzick, an administrative assistant at Homefree, described Angelina as "a sweet, sweet girl." But Kasperzick saw signs of trouble with Angelina's new boyfriend, CJ. Once, Garley had called her to complain that her ex-husband had removed "one shoe of every pair." By the time Kasperzick arrived, CJ was angry. He brandished a gun, saying he needed to protect the family from Nehemiah.

It wasn't long before Angelina and CJ began fighting. On May 11, Angelina called Brooklyn Park police, claiming that CJ had vandalized her Isuzu Axiom after an argument over her ex-husband. Rosemary Bradley, Angelina's stepmother, said her daughter thought CJ was a nice guy, "but a bit suffocating." Theresa Saunders, Angelina's twin sister, recalled that Garley was scared of CJ's temper. "She wasn't afraid of men, but she was afraid of him."

By late June, Angelina and CJ were exchanging text messages seething with recriminations and suspicions of infidelity. On June 19, Angelina discovered a message from a Pennsylvania woman named Amanda Knight, who had met CJ when he was on tour with Usher in Pittsburgh.

Angelina phoned Knight, identifying herself as CJ's girlfriend. The two women talked. Knight, who believed she was "in an exclusive relationship," decided to spill the details to her romantic rival.

After Angelina confronted CJ, he texted back an accusation of his own: "I seen enough, you've still been exchanging numbers with other men and lying to me about it. I'm done being humiliated, lied to, cheated on, and played."

A few minutes later, he sent a follow-up: "All I wanted to do is love you, but you've proven that you're not ready for it." Angelina responded with an appeal for reconciliation: "You showed me that I can love again. Please talk to me. I'm hurting really bad."

Later, Angelina seemed resigned, texting: "OK, I, too, give up. I am tired too. Sorry to waste your time. If I didn't LOVE YOU or CARE then I wouldn't be breaking my neck trying to talk to you. Hope your day gets a lot better. Love you."

By June 23, the two seemed to have reconciled. They spent the afternoon together at North Commons Water Park, along with Angelina's 12-year-old son and CJ's 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old niece.

That night, CJ reported to work at Johnny A's. At 11:33, he called Angelina. When she didn't pick it up, he sent her a text message: "Watcha doin'?"

"Being a good girl," Angelina texted back. "I'm making my way there."

An hour later, Angelina joined two friends for shots of tequila at Stand Up Franks, a bar located a block north of Johnny As. Not long after, the trio joined CJ at Johnny A's.

At about 2:30 a.m., Angelina and CJ left the bar together—Angelina in a white Acura Legend, CJ following in his mother's burgundy Mountaineer. As the two cars traveled north on I-94, a series of strange calls were made from Angelina's cell phone. The caller dialed an insurance adjuster who'd recently done business with Angelina, the Homefree domestic abuse program, and a work number for Angelina's stepmother. It was as if someone was trying to catch Angelina cheating.

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