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Last Place trial goes to jury

MINNEAPOLIS — The Last Place on Earth may have been a revolting place, but that didn’t make the business illegal, defense attorney John Markham told jurors Wednesday in the federal trial involving the Duluth head shop.

As prosecutors tried to show jurors that store owner Jim Carlson and two others attempted to defraud the government by misbranding and selling illegal drugs, defense attorneys argued that it was quite the contrary.

“Surely, Mr. Carlson could be convicted of one thing if it was illegal: being open, obnoxious, notorious and transparent about his business,” Markham said.

Now it’s up to jurors to decide. After hearing more than four hours of closing arguments, and more than an hour of legal instructions, the panel began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon. Jurors recessed for the evening, and deliberations will pick up again this morning.

Carlson, 56, is charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis with 55 federal crimes stemming from the sale of products that he commonly called incense and bath salts, which government attorneys say actually were illegal controlled-substance analogues. His girlfriend, Lava Haugen, 33, and son, Joseph Gellerman, 34, face four counts apiece.

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