Third suspect in Downwind murder case appears in court Thursday
BEMIDJI -- A third suspect in connection to the killing of Rose Downwind, 31, of Redby, has been arrested and charged with aiding an offender.Christopher John Davis, 27, of St. Paul, was booked Wednesday into the Beltrami County Jail, and appeare...
BEMIDJI - A third suspect in connection to the killing of Rose Downwind, 31, of Redby, has been arrested and charged with aiding an offender.
Christopher John Davis, 27, of St. Paul, was booked Wednesday into the Beltrami County Jail, and appeared Thursday in 9th District Court for an arraignment hearing.
The arrest comes almost two months after a warrant was issued for Davis, after his cousin Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, 40, told police of his involvement after Downwind’s death.
During Davis’ appearance in court, Beltrami County Attorney Annie Claesson-Huseby requested bail to be set at $1 million because of the state’s concern of public safety and flight of prosecution. Davis was located in Waller County, Texas, and had been seeking a new passport, Claesson-Huseby said during the hearing.
Bail was set at for $1 million with the conditions that Davis is to have no contact with Cimmarusti or the second suspect in the case, Brandon Rossbach, 31. Additionally, Davis would not be able to leave Minnesota, and he must surrender his passport if he has one. Bail with no conditions was set at $1.2 million. Davis’ next hearing is set for March 7.
Cimmarusti has been charged with second-degree intentional murder after initially being charged with second-degree murder without intent. The charge was changed when an amended criminal complaint was filed Feb. 1, which included an autopsy report that stated Downwind died because of ligature strangulation.
If convicted, Cimmarusti faces a maximum of 40 year in prison, while Davis and Rossbach both face a maximum of 20 years for the charge of aiding an offender. Cimmarusti is being held in the Hubbard County Jail and is scheduled for an omnibus hearing on Feb. 18, while Rossbach is being held in the Beltrami County Jail and has a court date set for Feb. 22.
In an amended criminal complaint with autopsy results, Dr. Butch Huston from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded Downwind had died as a result of ligature strangulation.
Additionally, the autopsy revealed evidence of a spinal fracture and damage to the skull.
According to court documents, after Downwind’s death on Oct. 20, Cimmarusti contacted Davis for assistance. Davis agreed to help and drove to Bemidji from St. Paul and went to Cimmarusti’s residence. After observing her body, documents state Davis picked up Rossbach from his residence at an area resort. Law enforcement obtained surveillance video from the Bemidji Wal-Mart that showed Davis and Rossbach at the store at 12:38 a.m. on Oct. 21, purchasing and carrying out Styrofoam products.
Davis then returned with Rossbach to Cimmarusti’s residence, where he and Cimmarusti removed Downwind’s body from the residence and placed her into the rear portion of a 2002 GMC Yukon, according to court documents. The three men then traveled northwest of Bemidji on Minnesota Highway 89 before going on a trail.
Cimmarusti told police he and Davis removed Downwind’s body from the vehicle, dug a hole and placed her body in it along with the Styrofoam products that were purchased earlier. Cimmarusti and Davis then lit a fire to burn Downwind’s body, and court documents state Rossbach stood by and justified what they were doing, saying “it was for the children.”
After about two hours, Cimmarusti told police he and Davis gave Rossbach a ride to his residence before returning to his residence around 5:30 a.m.
Cimmarusti turned himself in to police on Dec. 7, and told investigators about Downwind’s death and showed where her body was buried on Dec. 9. On Dec. 11, a warrant was issued for Davis’ arrest.
Prior to the amended complaint, Cimmarusti had been charged with second degree murder without intent. When speaking with officers Dec. 9, Cimmarusti said that on Oct. 20, a situation where he and Downwind were arguing in the entryway of his house had “spun out of control.” Cimmarusti told investigators he had attempted to pull Downwind’s cellphone out of her hand because she was reportedly attempting to use the phone to document a violation of a domestic abuse no contact order.
Cimmarusti then told police that while pulling the phone out of Downwind’s hand, he pushed his shoulder into her, and as a result Downwind fell down the cement stairs and landed at the bottom. Cimmarusti said Downwind was bleeding from her mouth and did not have a pulse.
When the amended complaint including the autopsy results was filed, though, the charge against Cimmarusti was altered to second-degree intentional murder. According to court documents, in his confession to police, Cimmarusti never mentioned the ligature wire around the neck of Downwind, which while charred, still existed.