Friday, October 15, 2010

Minnesota Supreme Court upholds conviction of Craigslist killer, says exclusion of killer's Asperger's dianosis OK

From The Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

The conviction of a man from Savage who lured a woman to his home and became known as the Craigslist killer was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Oct. 14.

The court rejected arguments that Michael J. Anderson (pictured) did not receive a fair trial in the shooting death of Katherine Olson on Oct. 25, 2007.

Anderson was convicted in March 2009 in Scott County District Court of first- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Authorities said he lured Olson to his parent's home by posting a babysitting ad on Craigslist, claiming to be someone named "Amy," and then shot Olson. He was sentenced to life without parole.

The Supreme Court rejected defense arguments that the court erred in excluding expert testimony about Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. The defense said it needed to introduce expert testimony to explain his physical appearance and manners to a jury. In pretrial hearings, the District Court judge saw nothing unusual, the Supreme Court said.

Attorneys also argued that Anderson's brain functioned differently, making him less culpable, but the Supreme Court said it had rejected similar arguments in other cases. The Supreme Court said he had not been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome before the trial nor was there a history of mental illness.

In rejecting other defense claims, the Supreme Court said that Anderson had properly waived his Miranda rights, that there was sufficient evidence to conclude the murder was premeditated and that the district judge issued proper instructions to the jury.

Justice Christopher Dietzen wrote the decision.

Justice Paul Anderson wrote a concurring opinion, but "strongly" recommended that the state courts revise an instruction on premeditation.

Justice David Stras took no part in the decision because he was not on the court during oral arguments.