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COURTS: Contested omnibus hearing set for suspect in Downwind case

BEMIDJI—A Bemidji man connected to the murder of Redby woman Rose Downwind appeared Monday in 9th District Court.

Brandon Joseph Rossbach, 31, faces the charge of aiding an offender after Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, 40, told police he helped dispose of Downwind's body in October northwest of Bemidji. Cimmarusti has been charged with second-degree intentional murder in the death of the 31-year-old Downwind.

At Monday's appearance before Judge Paul Benshoof, a contested omnibus hearing was scheduled for April 12. A contested omnibus is a pretrial hearing that allows the defense to put forward issues they may have with the case and it can deal with the admissibility of evidence.

During a contested omnibus hearing, a judge has the ability to determine whether or not there is enough evidence for probable cause. If the judge determines there isn't enough, the case is open for dismissal. However, if a judge decides the case has merit, it can move forward to trial unless the defendant enters a guilty plea or takes a plea deal.

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The case against Rossbach started when Cimmarusti told police Dec. 9 where Downwind's body could be found, and named Rossbach as an accomplice in helping to get rid of her body.

According to a criminal complaint, Cimmarusti told investigators Downwind had died Oct. 20 after he unintentionally pushed her down a flight of cement stairs at his residence in south Bemidji. After her death, Cimmarusti said he then contacted his cousin, Christopher John Davis, 27, for assistance. Cimmarusti said Davis agreed to help, and drove from St. Paul to Bemidji.

Upon arrival, Cimmarusti said Davis saw Downwind's body, left and then came back with Rossbach. After placing Downwind's body into the back of a vehicle, the three men traveled to a wooded area northwest of Bemidji. Once there, Cimmarusti told police he and Davis dug a hole and placed Downwind's body in it, along with Styrofoam material.

A criminal complaint for Rossbach states law enforcement obtained surveillance footage from the Bemidji Wal-Mart that showed Davis and Rossbach purchasing the Styrofoam products at 12:38 a.m. on Oct. 21.

The three men then allegedly lit a fire and burned Downwind's body for about two hours before covering it.

When first arrested in December, Cimmarusti was charged with second-degree murder without intent. However, an amended criminal complaint filed Feb. 1 included an autopsy report that showed Downwind died because of ligature strangulation, and a ligature wire was found around her neck. The autopsy said Downwind also suffered a vertebral fracture and skull damage. Cimmarusti's charges were amended to second-degree intentional murder.

Cimmarusti is currently being held at the Hubbard County Jail and faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted.

Both Rossbach and Davis are being held at the Beltrami County Jail. Davis, who was arrested earlier this month in Texas, also faces a charge of aiding an offender, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Davis is scheduled to appear in court March 7 while Cimmarusti's next court date is March 17.