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Minnesota appeals court denies new trial for man who used filet knife to kill roommate

Michael Grussing

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by Michael Dean Grussing, 57, for a new trial in the death of his roommate.

Grussing was convicted of second-degree, intentional murder in the death of his roommate, Kevin Richardson, 44, on Sept. 8, 2015, in Montevideo.

The decision released this week affirms a Chippewa County jury's guilty verdict on Feb. 24, 2016. Grussing is serving a 439-month sentence, and is currently incarcerated at the Rush City Correctional Facility.

Grussing argued that a decision by the district court allowing the jury to hear that he had three prior felony convictions was prejudicial and denied him his constitutional, due-process right to a fair trial.

The Court of Appeals termed his claim "not persuasive.''

"We conclude that no reasonable possibility exists that the evidence of Grussing's prior felony convictions significantly affected the jury's verdict,'' the court stated.

Grussing claimed he had acted in self-defense when he used a filet knife to inflict a deep cut to the left side of Richardson's neck. Richardson died at the Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital shortly after. He had run out of their residence in Montevideo and flagged down a pickup truck to reach the hospital.

The Court of Appeals noted that evidence of Grussing's guilt was "overwhelming.'' There was no evidence that Grussing had acted in self-defense. Grussing told two inmates at the Chippewa County Jail after his arrest that he had cut Richardson's throat and bragged about killing him. "With both detainees, Grussing showed no remorse and acted happy about the murder,'' the court stated.

The court also noted that the evidence of Grussing's past convictions had been raised at trial with instructions by the judge to the jury to limit how they assessed the information. The past convictions were only briefly referred to in closing arguments, and Grussing had the opportunity to testify in his own defense, the court stated.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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