Cloquet woman pleads in Watson murder caseA Cloquet woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to “aiding an offender after the fact” in the murder of Cristyna Leah Watson, whose body was discovered Oct. 4 outside a home on Reservation Road in Cloquet.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
A Cloquet woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to “aiding an offender after the fact” in the murder of Cristyna Leah Watson, whose body was discovered Oct. 4 outside a home on Reservation Road in Cloquet.
Alyssa Rae Peterson, 24, pleaded guilty in Carlton County Court Wednesday to aiding an offender after the fact and to an unrelated probation violation. Fifth-degree drug charges in another case were dismissed in the plea agreement. Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said Peterson is still in custody, noting that she has been in jail for 195 days already.
Peterson’s then-boyfriend, Michael William Siewert, 22, was charged in October with intentional second-degree murder in Watson’s death and a contested omnibus hearing in his case is scheduled in May. Another defendant, Cloquet’s Clifford James Thompson, 56, was also charged with aiding an offender-accomplice after the fact. His case has also not been resolved. Second-degree homicide charges against a juvenile were dropped in December.
According to the criminal complaint charging Siewert:
Siewert — who authorities have identified as a gang member of the Native Mob — and Peterson were in a romantic relationship. Cloquet police were investigating drug trafficking on Oct. 2 when Peterson said she had information regarding Native Mob gang activity and serious crimes in connection with Watson’s disappearance and disposal of her body at 213 Reservation Road, where Thompson lived.
Siewert is accused of taking Watson’s cell phone and her 2005 gray Pontiac Grand Prix, which he drove to the Twin Cities and sold to another party in exchange for controlled substances, the complaint alleges. A search warrant filed in the case states Peterson told investigators that Siewert traded Watson’s car to a woman in the Twin Cities for two ounces of methamphetamine.
Siewert is accused of planning the crime before assaulting and killing the victim. Numerous items of physical evidence and statements from other witnesses corroborate the timeline and circumstances surrounding the murder, authorities said.
After receiving information from Peterson and other witnesses, law enforcement executed numerous search warrants. Using cadaver dogs, the victim’s body was found at Thompson’s residence, where Siewert had been staying temporarily.
During the investigation, according to the complaint, Peterson also informed investigators of the actions that she took to assist Siewert in concealing evidence of the crime and assisting him from being apprehended by law enforcement officials for killing Watson. Peterson confirmed she had been in Watson’s vehicle and possession of Watson’s cell phone after she was killed. By her testimony, the complaint alleges that Peterson knew Watson had been killed by Siewert and potentially another accomplice.
After the hearing Wednesday, Pertler said Peterson has received threats while in jail.
“While she was entering her plea, she did tell the judge that she was concerned for her safety and has received threats in the past,” Pertler said.
A sentencing date for Peterson has not been set.