Criminal case dismissed after Granite Falls, Minnesota, man dies before sentencing

James Leroy Sanborn, 86, died after being hospitalized March 3. Sanborn had pleaded guilty in January to one count of possessing child pornography and was scheduled to be sentenced March 31, 2023, but he died before the scheduled hearing.


MONTEVIDEO — A man who had been awaiting sentencing on a felony count of possessing child pornography died before the hearing.

James Leroy Sanborn, 86, died before his sentencing hearing that had been set for March 31. No date of death was provided in court documentation.

James Leroy Sanborn
Contributed / Chippewa County Sheriff's Office

Sanborn pleaded guilty in Chippewa County District Court to one felony count of possessing child pornography on Jan. 3, 2023. In exchange for his plea, three other counts of possessing pornographic work were dismissed and Sanborn’s lawyer was free to argue for a lesser sentence, specifically a stay of execution.

The sentencing had been initially scheduled for March 6, but Sanborn was hospitalized March 3, according to court documents.

Judge Thomas Van Hon rescheduled the hearing to March 31 after Sanborn’s attorney, Justin Michael Braulick, of St. Cloud, submitted sealed medical records to the court on the originally scheduled date.


According to court documents, Braulick notified the court on March 28 that he had received information that Sanborn had died.

According to court records, Judge Thomas Van Hon reviewed the death certificate and ordered the criminal case dismissed.

Original report:

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement found electronic devices, receipts for money transfers to the Philippines and envelopes and CDs containing photos and videos of naked women — some of whom appeared to be minors — after a search of Sanborn’s residence.

The images were allegedly sent to him by families in the Philippines that he said he was supporting. In an interview with law enforcement, Sanborn said he sent money to five or six families to help them recover from fires and floods or send their children to school.

The complaint also states that Sanborn admitted to receiving nude photos, though he said he didn’t ask for them specifically, but allegedly kept sending the money, knowing he would receive photos and videos in return.

Dale Morin is a reporter with the West Central Tribune. He covers public safety and breaking news beats.

Dale can be reached at or by phone 320-214-4368.
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