MN High Court Sends Murder Case Back to St. Louis County

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law.

State v. Prtine. MN criminal law

In 2010, the Minnesota Supreme Court remanded the first-degree felony murder conviction of Andy William Prtine for the 2008 killing of Brent Ward in St. Louis County. In remanding the conviction to the lower court, the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Page, the high court held:

It was error to refuse to strike a juror who stated she was more inclined to credit testimony of police witnesses. This error, however, was harmless when defendant used a peremptory strike on that juror;

It was error for medical examiner to testify that assailant was "doing their best to kill this person," "purposely trying to kill them," and wanted to show they were in charge by maybe trying to cut off the victim's head; however, this error was also harmless.

Various unobjected to prosecutorial misconduct did not constitute plain error to warrant reversal.

It was error for the court to suggest the order in which the jury should consider the charges, but the error was not prejudicial.

The defendant's trial attorney conceded the element of intent. Since the record was unclear, the case was remanded to the district court to determine whether the defendant had acquiesced in that concession.

Justices Gildea, Dietzen, and P.H. Anderson concurred in part and dissented in part.

No. A09-702, 784 N.W.2d 303 (Minn. June 30, 2010).

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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