Prosecutors Continue To Argue Against Need For New Trial In Lee Christensen Case

Wed 11-2-2016 []

(Estherville)-- Prosecuting attorneys in the Lee Christensen case say the criteria establishing the need for a new trial has NOT been met.

An Emmet county jury in July found Christensen guilty of 2nd degree murder in the death of Thomas Bortvit of Estherville. Christensen originally had been charged with 1st degree murder in the ccse.

Christensen's attorney in August filed a motion seeking a new trial. Among other things he argued jurors were influenced by a posting on facebook stating riots would break out in Estherville if Christensen was acquitted.

In documents filed Monday, prosecutors stated that during questioning October 18th the state claimed none of the 12 jurors saw or read the post, and that only one juror had overheard a conversation about the post. That same juror indicated at a hearing October 18th that the comment was dismissed as a rumor and was not brought up to other jurors. Attorneys for the state claimed the post on Facebook was relating hearsay about rioting, and that the threat wasn't being targeted toward anyone. They also argued the post wasn't a reliable source of information adding “It clearly wasn't in this case as the jury did not return a verdict of guilty to the charge of murder in the 1st degree and no rioting ensued. Prosecutors also claim Judge David Lester made a statement at the end of the jury poll that no one came to him concerning the post.

Defense Attorney Leon Spies in August filed a motion calling for a new trial, citing nine factors.