Minnesota Supreme Court Upholds Conviction In 1997 Killing Of Estherville Teen
Date posted - September 11, 2013
Minneapolis, MN — The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of the man who is accused of ordering the gang-style slaying of northwest Iowa teenager Gregory “Sky” Erickson in a southern Minnesota farmhouse in 1997.
Fifteen-year-old Erickson was kidnapped in June of 1997 and was taken to an abandoned farmhouse in Jackson County where, according to court records he was tortured and eventually murdered over a drug debt. Erickson was gagged and shot by a member of the drug gang, Luis Lua. Records say the gun was then passed to a companion, Ryan Wedebrand who also shot Erickson. The gun was provided by Juan Humberto Castillo-Alvarez after he allegedly told the others to beat Erickson. The day after the men shot Erickson, they went back to the abandoned house and tried to burn it to the ground. In didn’t work, and the body was discovered about a week later. The gun was later found above the false ceiling in Castillo-Alvarez’s restaurant.
After the crime, authorities say Castillo-Alverez originally fled to Mexico, but in 2004, Iowa authorities filed state charges in an attempt to get him back from Mexico. He was finally extradited back to Iowa in 2006 and Iowa authorities were able to try him — only to have the verdict called back because the defense claimed he didn’t get a speedy trial. The prosecution argued that was his own fault since he fled to Mexico.
Minnesota authorities then decided to try Castillo-Alverez, since the crime happened on a rural Petersberg farm in Jackson County.
In January of 2011, a Jackson County, Minnesota jury convicted Castillo-Alvarez of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and felony kidnapping. In May of 2011, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
That conviction was appealed and the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled last year that since Castillo-Alverez’s Iowa conviction was reversed on appeal for issues unrelated to having sufficient evidence, it was not against Minnesota law to prosecute him a second time for the same conduct. The court says because Castillo-Alvarez’s Iowa conviction was reversed, and the case dismissed, the conviction is a “legal nullity” and the law does not prevent prosecution in Minnesota. And now the Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed, and affirmed the conviction.
An appeal to the federal court system is expected.
Nine other people were charged, with many of them being convicted and serving time.
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