Last defendant sentenced in Watson murderClifford James Thompson, 57, was sentenced Wednesday in Carlton County Court for the crime of aiding and abetting an offender to avoid arrest in the murder of Floodwood’s Cristyna Leah Watson.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Clifford James Thompson, 57, was sentenced Wednesday in Carlton County Court for the crime of aiding and abetting an offender to avoid arrest in the murder of Floodwood’s Cristyna Leah Watson.
Watson’s body was discovered Oct. 4, 2012, buried near Thompson’s home on Reservation Road in Cloquet.
Thompson was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on charges of aiding an offender to avoid arrest. In June, Thompson entered an Alford plea in Carlton County Court, maintaining his innocence but admitting that enough evidence exists to find him guilty in a court of law.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler explained that Thompson had two prior criminal history points, which determined the length of the sentence. However, since Thompson already spent more time than his sentence in jail, he was free to go. Thompson also pleaded guilty to a separate misdemeanor trespassing case at the same time.
Another defendant in the case, Alyssa Rae Peterson, 25, of Cloquet was sentenced June 12 to five years in prison by Judge Dale Wolf for aiding an offender after the fact and an unrelated probation violation; however, Judge Dale Wolf stayed Peterson’s prison sentence for five years and imposed five years of supervised probation.
Peterson’s former boyfriend, Michael William Siewert, 23, pleaded guilty in Carlton County Court May 28 to intentional second-degree murder in the slaying of Watson. He also pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault in an unrelated case. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the first charge, and the 54-month sentence he received for pleading guilty to the assault with the firearm will be served at the same time as the murder sentence.
The criminal complaint against Thompson alleges that he allowed Siewert to store and conceal controlled substances in a detached garage at his address. Investigators also learned that Thompson went to a neighbor’s house on the evening of Sept. 30 and borrowed a shovel.
Witnesses told investigators that Thompson used the shovel and also started a fire to conceal and destroy evidence that were allegedly connected to the homicide and may have connected the victim and defendants Siewert and Thompson.
According to the complaint, Thompson admitted that he allowed Siewert and others to use his property in an unlawful manner and that — on repeated occasions — he observed Siewert and a potential accomplice outside his residence in the woods where the victim’s body was eventually discovered.
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.
With Thompson’s sentencing, all defendants in the case have been sentenced. Second-degree murder charges against a juvenile were dropped in December.