Easter denied leave from jail to attend father’s funeral

Published 2:34 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

The man found guilty of second-degree murder after shooting and killing a rural Freeborn County man last summer will not be able to attend his father’s funeral next week in Omaha, Nebraska.

David Michael Easter, 27, requested he be released from jail on Friday with conditions deemed acceptable by the court so he could travel to Nebraska to attend the funeral of his father on Tuesday, who died of cancer Wednesday — exactly one year after Easter shot and killed Spencer Daniel Brown, 23, at Myre-Big Island State Park. Easter has been in jail since after he was found guilty by a jury in April of murdering Brown.

David Easter

In requesting he be allowed to travel to the funeral, public defender Michael Ryan said though the current situation is difficult, allowing Easter to attend the funeral with conditions deemed appropriate by the court would be “humane.”   

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In arguing against releasing Easter for the funeral, Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said Easter is a convicted murderer who showed a lack of cooperation and remorse following the trial, citing comments Easter directed toward Brown’s family following the verdict and his lack of cooperation with his pre-sentence investigation.

Ryan said though it did not justify Easter not completely filling out the pre-sentence investigation, he stated Easter was facing a high amount of stress with his looming Sept. 15 sentencing date and reacted out of anxiety and confusion.

Walker said allowing Easter to attend his father’s funeral would “severely hamper” the ability of the Department of Corrections to complete a pre-sentence investigation prior to his sentencing.  Easter will be incarcerated until he is sentenced.

Ryan said he would not characterize Easter as being defiant after sentencing, saying it was “the end of an arduous experience.” He said Easter has been “diligent” in reaching out to him, and stated Easter was in a unique situation by having to complete a pre-sentence investigation after being convicted of murder. Ryan said Easter would comply with the pre-sentencing process in the future.

Ryan said Easter’s condition has deteriorated during his time in jail.

Easter complied with release conditions after posting bail and being released from jail in September while the murder case was pending, Ryan said, noting his belief that concerns that Easter has no remorse about the shooting could be dispelled.

In ruling against Easter’s release, District Court Judge Steven Schwab said though Easter followed through with release conditions, circumstances have changed since the jury ruled against Easter’s claim of self-defense in Brown’s shooting death.

Schwab said he ruled against the request given present circumstances and Easter’s possible prison sentence.

After the ruling, Denise Brown — Spencer Brown’s mother — said Schwab’s decision was right because Easter is a convicted murderer.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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