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Willow River man granted new trial

The 40-year-old man's sentence was vacated as a result of Brady violations committed by the Carlton County Attorney's Office during the 2021 jury trial, according to court documents.

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CARLTON — A Willow River man previously convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct has been granted a new trial after having his sentence vacated in light of Brady violations committed by the Carlton County Attorney’s Office.

Francis Lenard Marsh, 40, was found guilty during a jury trial in a State District Court of three counts of criminal sexual conduct in June 2021. In August 2021, Marsh was sentenced to 38 years in the Rush City Department of Corrections Facility, in addition to a lifetime of conditional release.

After filing a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals on Nov. 16, 2021 in light of new evidence, Marsh’s motion was granted and led to an evidentiary hearing in February.

According to court records, Marsh was granted a new trial as a result of Brady violations and new evidence stemming from information being withheld from the defense during the original trial. Brady v. Maryland is a 1963 Supreme Court case that requires the disclosure of exculpatory material to defendants in criminal prosecutions.

The court records state that allegations of sexual abuse made by the alleged victim against undisclosed minors were not shared with defense attorney Benjamin Butler at the time of the trial.

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Marsh is currently being held in the Carlton County Jail on a $50,000 bond. A scheduling conference will be held June 23 at 3:30 p.m. Pre-trial and trial dates have been set for July 7 and July 11, respectively.

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Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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