Latest Appeal In Lee Christensen Case Once Again Centers Around Social Media Post

Tue 3-6-2018

(Estherville)-- A prison sentence for an Estherville, Iowa, man convicted of 2nd-degree murder, could once again hinge on a Facebook post. 

In July of 2016, Lee Christensen was found guilty in the 2015 death of 19-year old Thomas Bortvit of Estherville. Bortvit was reported missing on June 6, 2015, before his body was found one-day later. 

Christensen was sentenced to 50-years in prison in December of 2016.

During the trial, a Facebook post claimed there would be a riot if the jury did not find Christensen guilty of first-degree murder. The following day, Christensen was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder.

That Facebook post is now being used in his defense team's recent appeal, which likely won't be ruled on by the Iowa Court of Appeals until later this year.

This isn't the first time Christensen's defense attempted to use that social media post for a retrial. Following his conviction, Christen's attorney filed a motion for a new trial due to the post. That motion was overruled. The state claimed none of the jurors saw or read the post. Attorneys for the state claim the single Facebook post was relating hearsay about rioting. In addition, they claim the poster was not directing a threat of rioting toward anyone.