Should jury be able to see car from state park homicide?

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A jury might be able to view the vehicle a rural Freeborn County man was found dead in during the trial of the man charged with his death later this month.

The trial for David Michael Easter, 27, of Brownsdale is scheduled to begin March 28.

David Easter

Spencer Daniel Brown, 23, was found dead in a locked 2001 Audi station wagon the night of Aug. 23 in a parking lot near Big Island pavilion at Myre-Big Island State Park.

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Easter faces a charge of second-degree murder in his death.

In arguing for the station wagon to be placed at the scene during the planned jury visit, Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said the motion would allow the jury to contextualize the crime scene. According to Walker, the visit would be less effective without the vehicle there.

In arguing against the motion, public defender Adrianne McMahon questioned whether the jury would have an accurate view of where the vehicle was during the shooting.

Items that were in the car were removed after the shooting and not precisely put back into the vehicle, McMahon said.

According to Walker, the jury would not get a close view of the vehicle during the trial.

District Court Judge Steven Schwab did not make a final decision on the request.

Schwab could allow the vehicle to be placed at the scene, deny the motion or allow for a marking of where the vehicle was.

The parents of Brown’s girlfriend, Neal and Lisa Gjersvik, were in the courtroom for the hearing.

They said they are disappointed Easter was allowed to return to Nebraska in February to work on his taxes and see his father in the hospital.

“The justice system is cold,” Neal Gjersvik said. “The care is all for the accused. It’s not for the victims.”

Brown stayed at the Gjersvik home from March 2016 until his death.

Public defender Michael Ryan said Easter does not have a criminal history that indicates he is a threat to the public.

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.

Easter is arguing he shot Brown in self-defense and claimed Brown approached him with what appeared to be a bat.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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