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Minnesota upholds Castillo-Alvarez conviction

September 17, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

A Minnesota Court of Appeals decision filed Monday upholds the January 2011 conviction of Juan Humberto Castillo-Alvarez for his part in the 1997 slaying of Gregory Sky Erickson of Estherville.

Castillo-Alvarez was convicted by a Jackson, Minn., jury and sentenced to 48 months for kidnapping and 480 months for second-degree intentional murder, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

Castillo-Alvarez on appeal had said the Minnesota conviction constituted double jeopardy.

However, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a second prosecution was not barred in Minnesota. The court did reverse an order that Castillo-Alvarez pay costs of preparing a pretrial transcript.

The case involved the June 1997 kidnapping and murder of Erickson who was taken to an abandoned Minnesota farmstead where he was murdered after Erickson was unable to repay Luis Lua $1,400 for one pound of marijuana which had been seized by police. Castillo-Alvarez had fronted the drugs to Lua and was pressuring Lua to repay his debt.

After Erickson was gagged, Lua shot him in the head then passed the gun to a companion, Ryan Wedebrand, who also shot Erickson.

Castillo-Alvarez fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, and was extradited on October 2006. An Iowa jury found Castillo-Alvarez guilty of Iowa charges in September 2007 ; however, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed his convictions in September 2009, saying Castillo-Alvarez was denied his speedy-trial rights.

The Jackson County, Minnesota charges against Castillo Alvarez related to two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and one court of aiding and abetting kidnapping. He was later found guilty on all counts.

Three of the other men involved in the kidnapping and murder testified at trial that Castillo-Alvarez was the one who ordered Lua to kidnap and murder Erickson and that Lua was following Castillo-Alvarez's orders.



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