Convicted Sherburne County Murderer's Third Appeal Not The Charm

Minnesota case law summary: Criminal law, newly discovered evidence.

Timothy Michael Erickson v. State of Minnesota. MN Newly discovered evidence

Timothy Michael Erickson was convicted of the March 22, 1988 brutal murder of Donald Gall in Sherburne County, Minnesota. Erickson, Gall, and several others were camping near St. Cloud. Later that day, Erickson and his brother explained to a friend that they had committed the murder, and two days later, she reported it to police. Police recovered the body from the river, and arrested Erickson at the St. Cloud bus station. After receiving his Miranda warning, he admitted to the murder and consented to a search of his home.

At trial, the jury rejected the defense of mental illness and intoxication. He was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life. In 1989, The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. In 2006, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was denied. The Minnesota Supreme Court once again affirmed.

Undaunted, Erickson filed yet another petition for post-conviction relief in 2012. This time, he alleged that his appellate attorney had been ineffective for allegedly failing to investigate his claims and instead improperly relying on trial counsel when crafting the strategy on appeal. He claimed that he had "newly discovered evidence" to support this claim, in the form of a letter from the attorney. That letter stated that the lawyer had no independent recollection of why he raised the issues he did, but that he always considers all issues presented to or identified by him and advances the issues that he believes have the best chance of success.

The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that this letter did not constitute "newly discovered evidence" in the case sufficient to allow yet another appeal.

The Supreme Court examined Erickson's arguments, but once again concluded that there were no grounds for reversing the conviction.

No. A13-0349 (Minn. Feb. 5, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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