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Erickson found guilty of assaulting his wife

A Clay County judge Wednesday found Todd Erickson guilty of beating up his wife and threatening her with a gun. Erickson's wife, Susan, collapsed into her mother's arms and sobbed, "Why is he doing this?" as sheriff's deputies led her handcuffed ...

A Clay County judge Wednesday found Todd Erickson guilty of beating up his wife and threatening her with a gun.

Erickson's wife, Susan, collapsed into her mother's arms and sobbed, "Why is he doing this?" as sheriff's deputies led her handcuffed husband out of the courtroom.

Susan Erickson needed help standing as she silently left the courtroom with family members.

Clay County District Court Judge Galen Vaa will sentence Todd Erickson June 13, after Erickson undergoes a mental health evaluation.

He faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

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The former Moorhead fire marshal was charged with felony second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and making terroristic threats to his wife Jan. 26.

Clay County District Court Judge John Pearson read Vaa's written ruling Wednesday.

Vaa could not attend in person because of a scheduling conflict.

Pearson also ruled Susan Erickson was to have no contact with her husband until the court indicates otherwise.

Clay County Attorney Lisa Borgen said she was not surprised with the outcome.

"The judge saw that the state had proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt with our overwhelming evidence and in spite of the inconsistent testimony."

Susan Erickson told police during a taped conversation the night of the incident that her husband pointed a gun at her head and threatened to shoot her. He beat her up and dragged her down the stairs, she said.

But during the three-day bench trial, Susan Erickson said she lied to police because she wanted her husband to get help for his alcohol addiction.

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Wednesday, Borgen said the state will recommend 37-year-old Todd Erickson serve the minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison.

"There are no mitigating circumstances for the court to depart from that sentence," she said.

Defense attorney Charles Chinquist said while he was disappointed with the verdict, he hoped the order for a mental health evaluation might mean the judge is considering giving Todd Erickson something other than a jail sentence.

Chinquist didn't think the family would appeal.

Lt. Bob Larson of the Moorhead Police Department said he hoped the ruling sends a message that domestic abuse cases will be prosecuted -- with or without witness cooperation.

"In the long run, we are doing the best thing for the victim," he said.

Susan Erickson and her husband struggled after she returned home from a Jan. 26 party and found her husband with a gun to his head.

Todd Erickson, who felt his wife was having an affair with another woman, never threatened her with the gun, even as they struggled, she told the court.

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She said she slipped down the stairs and the marks around her mouth could have been canker sores.

But Borgen played a series of taped conversations between the Ericksons while Todd was in jail.

During one of them, Todd Erickson said to his wife: "I know that I threatened you with them."

Susan replied, "With the guns?"

"Uh huh," Todd Erickson said.

He then asked her to call police and recant her statement.

Todd Erickson testified he was deep in an untreated depression, had been drinking and was on various medications the night of the assault. He said he didn't remember most of what took place, but denied threatening his wife with a gun.

PDF Documents of Court Documents:

http://www.in-forum.com/pages/clay/Clay1.pdf

http://www.in-forum.com/pages/clay/Clay2.pdf

http://www.in-forum.com/pages/clay/Clay3.pdf

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535

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