Jury finds northwest Minnesota man guilty of murder
The trial began Monday, Sept. 26, and was anticipated to last until Friday, Oct. 7. However, the jury reached its verdict Friday afternoon, Sept. 30.
THIEF RIVER FALLS – After a week-long trial by jury, an Oklee, Minnesota, man on Friday was found guilty on two counts of second-degree murder.
A Pennington County jury found Eric Reinbold, 46, guilty of the July 9, 2021, killing of his wife, Lissette Reinbold, 34. The charges were second-degree murder with intent, and second-degree murder while committing assault. The jury found him guilty on both counts.
The court proceedings began on Friday, Sept. 30, with the state and defense presenting their closing arguments.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there are no ‘ifs,'” said John Gross, assistant county attorney general. “Each cut and stab was a purposeful act to kill her.”
Gross said the lack of forensic evidence was “not surprising,” as the crime took place outdoors. Additionally, Reinbold would have had time to destroy evidence as he evaded arrest for 26 days following the murder.
Gross told the jury that Reinbold drove his car to the property in the early morning hours of July 9, 2021. He parked approximately 200 yards from the house, and could have been hiding in the garage waiting for Lissette to exit the house. Lissette’s phone, a container of yogurt, her shoes, and keys were all found close to her body, suggesting she was taken by surprise.
All possible leads were followed, according to Gross.
“This is not a collection of horrible coincidences, but a horrible reality,” said Gross.
In defense attorney Bruce Rivers’ closing statement, he told the jury there was a lack of direct evidence. He also told the jury that hair found at the scene — from an unidentified male — cast reasonable doubt.
Gross offered a rebuttal, noting there were many people who responded to the crime scene. He also said there is no record of a match for the hair in Codus, a database for DNA collection from crime scenes, arrestees, and convicts.
“In other words, ladies and gentlemen, this hair has absolutely nothing to do with this case,” Gross said.
The jury was given final instructions and then dismissed from the courtroom. They deliberated for approximately three and a half hours.
Reinbold was found guilty on both counts, before the jury deliberated further on whether there were aggravating factors.
For the second stage, the jury deliberated for a few minutes and returned to the courtroom. To the question of whether the defendant stabbed Lissette Reinbold multiple times and left her body for her child to find, the jury said yes.
Eric Reinbold was then handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.