Appeals court orders new trial for Rasmussen in sex abuse case
WILLMAR — The State Court of Appeals has ruled that a 24-year-old Willmar man previously sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexually abusing a young girl is entitled to a new trial.
In an unpublished opinion issued Monday, the Court of Appeals granted a new trial to Andres Sylvester Rasmussen, who is currently in custody at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Rush City, according to the Department of Corrections website.
Rasmussen was charged in October 2011 on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct for more than 100 incidents of sexual assault on the then-14-year-old girl in a one-year period ending in September 2011. He was convicted by a jury in May 2012 and was sentenced in July 2012 by District Judge David Mennis to three consecutive 12-year prison sentences, plus a lifetime of conditional release and $3,000 in fines. Consecutive sentences mean that one sentence must be completed before a prisoner can start serving the next sentence.
In the ruling, the appeals court agreed with Rasmussen’s argument that Mennis allowed hearsay testimony, by a Willmar Police detective and the girl’s parents, prior to the girl’s testimony as the final witness in the jury trial. Hearsay testimony, communicating statements made by someone else, is allowed in court under certain exceptions.