February 13, 2016

Mistrial declared in Cass County man’s sexual abuse case

A judge has declared a mistrial in case of a Cass County Man facing 46 felony counts of third-degree sexual abuse and other charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year old female who lived in his home as a foster child. Fifty-two-year old Roger Allen Ericksen, of Lewis and his family members were in the courtroom in Atlantic when Fourth District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski asked the jury foreman about their deliberations.

The judge asked the foreman if they jurors were able to reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges against Ericksen, and he said they were not. The judge than asked if any further deliberations, taking a recess and coming back on Friday would be helpful for the jury to reach a unanimous decision on the counts.

The foreman replied “No, at this time we’re at an impasse.” The judge then declared a mistrial and released the jurors.

“I know that you have worked hard, it’s been almost six hours no that you have been together during your deliberations. I truly appreciate your hard work and your efforts in this matter and I will excuse you at this time,” Kilnoski said. Ericksen will remain in the Cass County Jail on $250,000 bond.

A second trial date has not yet been scheduled. Ericksen’s Attorney, Theodore Wonio, refused to comment following the ruling. Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner, who was the prosecutor talked about what the judge’s decision means. “It’s as if the current trial did not take place…and the state will have another opportunity to seek to retry the case again,” Feistner said.

It’s not clear if the same jury who heard the case this week will be recalled for the second trial, or another jury will assume the role. Ericksen was charged on December 13th of 2011 with 46 counts of third-degree sexual abuse, two counts of lascivious conduct with a minor and two charges of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.

The charges were the result of a nearly four and one-half month long investigation that began July 25th, 2011, after authorities received word of the incidents.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic

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