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Willmar man’s 36-year sentence greatly reduced

WILLMAR -- A Willmar man previously sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexually abusing a young girl entered a plea agreement Thursday that will greatly reduce his sentence.

WILLMAR - A Willmar man previously sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexually abusing a young girl entered a plea agreement Thursday that will greatly reduce his sentence.
Andres Sylvester Rasmussen, 25, pleaded guilty Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court to an amended count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In March, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted Rasmussen a new trial in the case that began in October 2011. Trial dates had been set for January, but Rasmussen instead entered into a plea agreement.
There was discussion during Thursday’s hearing that the maximum prison sentence Rasmussen could face for second-degree criminal sexual conduct is 7 and one-half years, and he would receive credit for time already served.
As part of the plea agreement, two additional charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct will be dismissed during sentencing March 5.
Rasmussen on Thursday entered an Alford plea, which means he does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that a reasonable jury could find him guilty of the offense. An Alford plea is recorded as a guilty plea.
Rasmussen was convicted by a jury in May 2012 of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually assaulting the then-14-year-old girl more than 100 times.  
He was sentenced in July 2012 by Judge David Mennis to three consecutive 12-year prison sentences, meaning that he was required to complete one sentence before serving the next sentences.
According to court documents, Rasmussen later appealed his conviction, arguing that the district court had wrongly allowed hearsay evidence during his trial.
In an unpublished opinion issued this March, the Court of Appeals agreed and granted Rasmussen a new trial.
In the ruling, the appeals court agreed with Rasmussen’s argument that Mennis had allowed hearsay testimony, by a Willmar Police Department 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 only under certain exceptions.

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