VIRGINIA, Minn.-A 19-year-old Hibbing man has admitted to stabbing and beating his roommate to death before burning the victim's body in an old mine pit in Mountain Iron.
Dylan Bernard Gilbertson pleaded guilty Friday in State District Court in Virginia to an intentional second-degree murder charge in the death of 20-year-old Jaysen Greenwood.
Authorities said Gilbertson brutally assaulted Greenwood inside their shared Hibbing apartment on May 18, apparently in retaliation for some stolen electronics. Greenwood's severely burned remains were found in the Mott Pit area of Mountain Iron the next day, and a medical examiner concluded that he had been stabbed, beaten and strangled.
Gilbertson last week accepted a plea agreement with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office, under which it is expected that he will be sentenced to 35 years in prison.
The term is a significant upward departure from sentencing guidelines, which call for a presumptive confinement of 25½ years for a first-time offender convicted of intentional second-degree murder.
Gilbertson also agreed to cooperate with law enforcement to provide a "truthful and complete" statement about the incident.
In exchange, the prosecution agreed not to convene a grand jury to consider an indictment for premeditated first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.
Sixth Judicial District Judge James Florey ordered a presentence investigation ahead of a Dec. 14 sentencing date.
Greenwood's body was discovered near a trail along the mine property on May 19. Authorities said the victim had been wrapped in a cloth material and that the body and nearby ground and vegetation were significantly charred.
Tire marks were also found in the grass, indicating that a vehicle had backed up to the ditch, a criminal complaint said.
Authorities indicated that the victim had been stabbed multiple times and had blunt force trauma to the head and facial area, including severe damage to the teeth. A medical examiner indicated that a broken knife blade remained in his chest.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension later was able to identify the body as Greenwood's through fingerprint analysis.
Investigators went to Greenwood's Hibbing apartment, at the corner of Howard Street and First Avenue, where they found a car with tires matching the marks found at the mine pit, according to the complaint. A gas can was also found in the back seat.
A search warrant was later conducted at the apartment, with investigators reporting that they found several blood stains and areas that had been freshly cleaned.
Authorities said the search also turned up a wooden paddle, a pair of boots and a men's watch - all with blood stains - along with other blood spots located throughout the apartment. Roommates indicated that the blood-stained boots belonged to Greenwood, according to the charges.
Another roommate, 16-year-old Julianna Christine Sala, told police at the time that Gilbertson had been angry with Greenwood.
"She told investigators that Gilbertson was mad at Greenwood for stealing property from him," the complaint said. "She indicated that Gilbertson had made the comment in the past (that) he would like to stab Greenwood to death."
Documents indicate that the property allegedly stolen from Gilbertson included a tablet computer and a cellphone. Reports also indicate that methamphetamine use likely played a role in the incident.
After multiple interviews with investigators, Sala was arrested in June on a felony charge of aiding an offender in connection with the incident. Authorities said she witnessed the killing and helped Gilbertson transport Greenwood's body, but obstructed the investigation by withholding her involvement and other details.
Sala, now 17, admitted that she handed Gilbertson the paddle used in the assault and traveled with him to dispose of the body in Mountain Iron, but her defense attorney has argued that she was simply a "scared 16-year-old in fear of her life."
Her case remains in juvenile court, but prosecutor Karl Sundquist has asked Florey to certify her as an adult. He also has filed a motion to amend the charge to a more-severe count of aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder.
Sundquist said Monday that a ruling on the adult certification is likely to take a few additional months in light of Gilbertson's plea.
A third defendant, 19-year-old Sean Joseph Powers, is also charged with aiding an offender in intentional second-degree murder. He is accused of lying to police after allegedly seeing the aftermath of the crime, hearing the suspect confess and helping to clean the apartment of blood.
Powers is due back in court in January.