A man who was acquitted of a 2009 Burnsville murder only to have the jury deadlock on related assault and attempted-murder charges has now had those other charges dismissed by a Dakota County judge.
A jury trial scheduled for Monday in the case against Taylor Pass, 21, will be canceled.
In an order issued Thursday, District Court Judge Patrice Sutherland cited difficulties in trying Pass for assault and the attempted murder of Odai Al-Refo without introducing evidence from the previous murder trial surrounding the death of Tina SanRamon, in which Pass was found not guilty.
When the case first went to trial in November 2009, prosecutors argued that Pass murdered SanRamon in April of that year and then tried to kill Al-Refo, who suffered superficial stab wounds on his neck and back, to eliminate him as a witness. Pass' defense attorneys presented an alternate scenario in which Al-Refo or someone else killed SanRamon.
SanRamon was stabbed to death in the Burnsville townhouse she shared with Al-Refo in April 2009.
The jury deliberated for about 14 hours before acquitting Pass of SanRamon's murder.
"If Defendant did not murder SanRoman, it is absurd to suggest he attempted to murder Al-Refo to conceal a crime that a jury determined he did not commit," Sutherland wrote in the order.
She said that introducing evidence of SanRamon's murder, either as context for prosecution or to mount a defense, would be problematic.
"Allowing the State to proceed with this case will open the door to relitigation of the issues and allow the second jury to question the verdicts of the first and reach a decision that potentially conflicts with the first jury's determination," she said.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he plans to appeal the judge's ruling. "It's a complicated case, a complicated issue, but we believe it is in the interest of justice for us to be allowed to retry Mr. Pass on the additional counts," he said.
Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286