Ericsson given life sentence without parole
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Judge Vincent Foley handed down a life sentence in South Dakota's prison system to Carl V. Ericsson Friday (today) for the Jan. 31 murder of Norman Johnson of Madison.|
Ericsson appeared before Foley accompanied by his defense attorney Scott Bratland of Watertown to hear the judge's sentence. The prosecution and Bratland had reached a plea agreement earlier this spring in which Ericsson pleaded guilty but mentally ill, a second-degree murder charge, to the fatal shooting in exchange for the removal of the death penalty from his sentence.
Ericsson, 73, appeared before about 30 persons in the courtroom at the Lake County Courthouse wearing jail fatigues and using an assisted hearing device while seated at the defense table.
Before announcing the sentence that offered no opportunity for Ericsson's parole from prison, Foley said Madison residents were unfamiliar with the type of violence that occurred when Ericsson, then a Watertown resident, fatally shot Johnson in his Madison home. Foley characterized Ericsson's behavior as tainted by selfishness.
"No one can doubt the harm you have done to the Johnson family," Foley said.
Before the sentence was announced, Johnson's daughters, Terri Wiblemo of Marshall, Minn., and Beth Ribstein of Brookings, spoke about their family's loss.
Seated in the witness stand facing Ericsson, Wiblemo described her feelings about not having her father alive on this Father's Day.
"I could try to explain to you how much I miss my dad...I don't know if you would understand that kind of goodness," Wiblemo said, speaking calmly from the stand.
Before she finished her comments, Wiblemo said she hoped that Ericsson would never forget what he had done to her father.
Ribstein then took the stand and, after taking a deep breath, she said to Ericsson, "I know you have no remorse for any of this."
Ribstein described Ericsson's life as filled with jealousy and anger. In contrast, she said her 72-year-old father had the respect of his family and community with hundreds of mourners attending his funeral.
Ribstein said she hoped that Ericsson would someday fully understand what he had done "and live to regret it."
As part of Ericsson's defense, Bratland had put in evidence before the court that his client had received treatment for depression and anxiety and was taking several medications as treatment for mental illness. Foley stated that despite the depression that had affected Ericsson, "You knew right from wrong," and the defendant had not cared about the consequences.
After his comments, Foley sentenced Ericsson to spend the rest of his natural life in prison and ordered him to pay $6,320 in restitution.
Speaking after the sentencing, State's Attorney Ken Meyer said the community continued to have great sympathy toward the Johnson family, saying that their loss was "indescribable." Meyer also noted that the family and community had found some resolution to the murder about 4 1/2 months after the shooting.
According to Meyer, Johnson's death at Ericsson's hands was the result of a decades-old grudge that started when both men were high school students.
Meyer said he was satisfied with the sentence, saying "It is the maximum sentence you can get" without receiving the death penalty.
According to Meyer, his office was unwilling to accept a lesser charge than second-degree murder as part of the plea agreement and would not have agreed to a lesser sentence than life imprisonment due to Ericsson's age.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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