Minn. man admits to crushing skull of intruder, hiding body in garage
A St. Paul man confessed to using a steel pipe to repeatedly strike an intruder he discovered in his garage last summer until the man stopped moving.
Then he covered up his dead body and let it decompose on his property for weeks.
John Michael Erickson made the admission during a plea hearing in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday morning. The 50-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Allan “Buddy” Bishara Aguilar, 47. Erickson also pleaded guilty to interference with a dead body.
The plea deal was reached after the state agreed to dismiss the second-degree murder charge previously facing Erickson in exchange for his admission.
Erickson’s defense attorney John Riemer asked him to describe his actions leading up to Aguilar’s death to Ramsey County District Judge Nicole Starr.
Erickson said he was downstairs in his home in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood sometime between June 13 and July 14, 2017, when he heard something fall in his garage.
Suspicious, he went upstairs to put on some shorts and then proceeded into his dark garage.
“Once you were in the garage, you were confronted by someone, correct?” Riemer asked his client.
“Yes … I was going through my woodshop … and that’s when I got hit … and we started fighting,” Erickson said.
Describing himself as fearful and angry, Erickson said he fumbled for a weapon and found a steel pipe, which he used to repeatedly hit the intruder — including at least one blow to the head — until the man stopped moving.
Then he said he moved the dead body to the side of his garage and covered him up with layers of bedding.
It wasn’t until later that he discovered that the person he killed was Aguilar, a man he’d been angry with for stealing his tools, Erickson said in court.
Though Erickson said his actions were fueled by fear, Riemer was careful to clarify that his client was not claiming self-defense, which Erickson could assert if he decided to take his case to trial but not in an admission of guilt to first-degree manslaughter.
“You admit … that you lost control and acted in a heat of passion?” Riemer asked him.
“Yes,” Erickson said.
Authorities discovered Aguilar’s body after friends of Aguilar’s broke into Erickson’s garage to look for the missing man last July.
A medical examiner determined that the body had been decomposing for about four weeks, which puts Aguilar’s time of death sometime between when he was last seen June 13 and when his remains were found July 14, according to court records.
His skull was crushed by Erickson’s blows.
Erickson told police after his arrest that he concealed the body because he hadn’t known what to do with it and hoped maggots would take care of it.
Erickson will be sentenced April 9.