Gillette Man Accused Of Shooting Brother Pleads Not Guilty

A Gillette man accused of shooting his brother in the arm after a heated argument has pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder, a charge punishable by between 20 years and life in prison.

Clair McFarland

April 10, 20236 min read

Justin Calvert
Justin Calvert (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Accused of shooting his brother in the street in front of his home, a Gillette man has pleaded not guilty of attempted second-degree murder for allegedly shooting his brother.

Justin Calvert, 34, faces between 20 years and life in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines if convicted.  

The allegations date to March 16, when the Gillette Police Department responded to a shooting on Liberty Lane in Gillette, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed in the case.  

Evidence soon suggested that Calvert had shot his brother, Trenton Poel, following a heated phone argument, court documents allege. 

“There is no reason to believe Justin needed to use deadly force to protect himself or others,” says the affidavit. “Trenton was 49 feet away from him, in the middle of the road and unarmed.”  

Crashed And Unconscious

Witnesses told police that day that a man who’d been shot entered a dark-colored sedan and fled the area. He crashed near Gurley Avenue and Warlow Drive. 

Emergency personnel found Poel unconscious in the crashed vehicle and bleeding profusely form a bullet wound to his upper right arm. They applied a tourniquet and began lifesaving measures, the affidavit says.  

Emergency responders then took Poel to the emergency room, where he underwent blood transfusions, then traveled via Life Flight to a trauma center.  

Angry Texts 

The investigation led police to Calvert's home, the affidavit says.

Gillette Police Department officers spoke with Calvert, his wife and his stepdaughter at their home. Police took all three to the police station and advised them of their Miranda warnings.  

The girl told police that Poel had been texting her, asking for a ride to the recreation center, but she didn’t want to associate with him, so she told her stepdad about the texts. 

Search warrants in the case also said that Poel and Calvert are brothers, and that Poel had been sending Calvert angry texts and maligning Calvert’s wife.  

The affidavit alleges that Poel and Calvert argued through texts and then on the phone. 

Grabbing His Arm 

Poel pulled up in front of the house in a dark-colored sedan quickly, nearly ramming the fence, the affidavit says.  

The girl told Calvert that Poel was there, then went back into the bedroom. She wasn’t sure what happened over the next two minutes. But then she heard a gunshot and looked out the window to see Poel grabbing his arm, standing near his car in the road.  

It was clear Poel had just been shot, the girl reportedly told law enforcement.  

The girl went to the living room and found her stepfather and her mother there, the affidavit says.  

Middle Of The Road 

Law enforcement also interviewed Calvert’s wife, who said that Poel had been sending Calvert threatening and insulting texts, the affidavit says.  

Poel also messaged her, Calvert’s wife, saying he was coming over. She walked the 10 feet from the front door to the gate.  

Poel stood in the middle of the road, unarmed, near his sedan, according to the affidavit.  

While she approached Poel, the woman told law enforcement that Calvert exited the home behind her and started firing a gun at Poel.  

The woman said she believed Calvert had shot Poel at least two times. 

A neighbor referenced in the affidavit said Calvert was about 49 feet from Poel when he shot; and there was a 4-foot chain-link fence between the two men.  

The neighbor and Calvert’s wife both confirmed that Poel was not armed. 

“(Calvert’s wife) confirmed that Trenton was not armed, was not making threats and was not advancing her when Justin shot him,” the affidavit says, adding that she said Poel had never been violent toward the family in the past.  

Very Quiet 

Poel walked around for a moment, stumbling and shaking, got in the sedan and drove away, the affidavit says.  

Calvert’s wife told investigators he went inside and sat on the couch, put the gun on the end table next to the couch and was very quiet.  

She told him he was going to jail.  

The Scene 

Police found a large amount of blood in the road when they surveyed the shooting scene on Liberty Lane, but none on Calvert’s property, the affidavit says. The bullet appeared to have traveled across the road, into a neighbor’s house and then ricocheted into a retaining wall.  

Police also found a 9 mm Beretta handgun on the end table by the couch in the living room and an empty nightstand holster in a bedroom.  

The distance between the gun’s resting place and the empty holster led authorities to believe that “Justin went to the opposite side of the house to arm himself and shoot Trenton,” the affidavit says.  

Police also found a bullet hole in Poel’s passenger side window.  

The Victim’s Phone 

Law enforcement on March 28 received a search warrant for Poel’s phone, which emergency responders found on the floorboard of Poel’s wrecked sedan when they rescued him the day of the shooting.  

Poel confirmed that the phone was his, according to the search warrant affidavit.  

The warrant affidavit says that Poel and Calvert are brothers. It also alleges that Calvert’s wife watched him arm himself with the 9 mm handgun from the master bedroom.  

Police found messages from Poel on Calvert’s phone before they received the search warrant for Poel’s phone, the warrant affidavit says.  

Poel in one of the text messages told Calvert that he and his family “don’t mean fuck to me anymore,” says the warrant affidavit.  

“I’m sorry u feel that way,” Calvert responded.  

“Fuck you lose my number,” Poel reportedly responded, then called Calvert’s wife worthless.  

Police sought the warrant to review exchanges between the two men from Poel’s phone.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter