Man accused in fatal beating outside Fargo bar wants pool ball video thrown out
FARGO - Defense attorneys for a man accused in a beating death outside a Fargo bar last spring don't want jurors in his murder case to see a video that appears to show the defendant grabbing a pool ball from a table before heading out of the bar ...
FARGO – Defense attorneys for a man accused in a beating death outside a Fargo bar last spring don't want jurors in his murder case to see a video that appears to show the defendant grabbing a pool ball from a table before heading out of the bar after the victim and his wife.
Jessy Olson, along with three others, is charged in connection with the fatal beating of Joey Gaarsland, a 35-year-old father of five , outside Rick's Bar in Fargo on May 17.
The pool ball captured on video by surveillance cameras at Rick's might have been used as a weapon to knock out a good Samaritan who rushed from the bar to stop the beating of Gaarsland, according to testimony Tuesday at a contested motion hearing in the Cass County District Court murder case against Jessy Olson.
Olson faces four charges: conspiracy to commit murder and three counts of aggravated assault for injuries sustained by Gaarsland, his wife, Laura and the bystander who stepped in, Matthew Breitbach.
Fargo police detective Joshua Loos took the stand as a witness for the defense. He told the court that Breitbach told him he was trying to stop two men from beating Gaarsland when he was hit in the back of the head with something larger and harder than a fist before blacking out.
Pat Rosenquist, Olson's attorney, argued that the video of Olson grabbing the pool ball is prejudicial and could confuse jurors into believing that Olson was guilty of the murder, even though no pool ball is alleged to have been used on Gaarsland.
"It's a red herring," he said. "It really has nothing to do with it."
Cass County prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek said the video was prejudicial, but rightly so. He argued it showed Olson's frame of mind before the incident and could also show how he helped carry out the murder by stopping Breitbart's attempt to intervene.
The defense is also asking to sever the assault charges from the murder, on the same grounds.
Judge Thomas Olson took the motions under advisement.
The three others facing similar charges of murder and aggravated assault are Jason Olien, Nicholas Morris and Scott Moen.
All four defendants have pleaded not guilty.