Jury selection begins in state park homicide case

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jury selection is underway today in the case of the Brownsdale man charged with murdering another man at Myre-Big Island State Park last summer.

David Michael Easter, 27, faces one count of second-degree murder, a felony, and one count of carrying or possessing a pistol without a permit in a public place, a gross misdemeanor.

David Easter

He is accused of shooting to death Spencer Daniel Brown of rural Freeborn County.

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Brown, 23, was found dead in a locked 2001 Audi station wagon in a parking lot near Big Island pavilion at the state park. Authorities have said Easter shot Brown in the side of his head two times through the window of the car.

In Freeborn County District Court on Monday, Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said the medical examiner is expected to testify that Easter was somewhere between two and 24 inches away when he fired one of the two shots. Brown’s car doors were reportedly locked, and the vehicle was in reverse at the time it was found. His foot was on the brake.

Easter reportedly told dispatchers he shot Brown in self defense and claimed Brown approached him with what appeared to be a bat.

In court Monday, Easter’s lawyers argued that his second charge of carrying or possessing a pistol without a permit be severed from this case and tried separately.

District Court Judge Steve Schwab denied the motion.

Schwab also ordered that prosecutors be allowed to refer to cones expected to be set up at the state park in the approximate area where Brown’s car was found.

Walker will also be able to use the term “point-blank range “ in his arguments though Easter’s lawyers said they thought the term was too prejudicial.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Pending no criminal record is found, Easter faces a presumptive sentence of more than 25 years in prison.

Jury selection is expected to take all week, with the trial itself to begin on Monday. It is expected to take two weeks.