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Ryan Larson

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

First suspect in Cold Spring cop's killing posts bail on stalking charge

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • January 14, 2013 - 10:23 PM

The man initially named but never charged as a suspect in the slaying of Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker is once again free from jail after posting bail on a felony stalking charge.

Ryan Michael Larson, 34, turned himself in at the Wright County Jail late Saturday, two days after he was charged with violating an earlier no-contact order, allegedly harassing an ex-girlfriend with e-mails and texts -- including e-mail contact with her on Nov. 29, the night Decker was killed. Larson posted $10,000 bail and was released at about 1 p.m. Monday.

Conditions of his release include a no-contact order that says he may not come within 10 miles of the woman's home. He also was ordered to turn in all of his weapons and their permits within 24 hours of his release.

According to charges filed in Buffalo, Larson e-mailed the ex-girlfriend, saying he saw her car "that evening" at a Maple Lake bar -- nearly 40 miles from his Cold Spring apartment above Winners bar. Decker was shot twice in the head behind Winners late that night.

Larson has insisted he was at his Cold Spring apartment by 6 p.m. that evening and was asleep at 8 p.m., waking after midnight when police officers arrested him.

In a text message sent last week to the Star Tribune, Larson denied being in Maple Lake, saying "it never happened. I was in Cold Spring."

Attorney Joe Friedberg, who represented Larson after his release in the Decker case, backed that claim on Monday. He said there is a witness who will testify that Larson's car was parked behind the apartment from 6 p.m. on the night of the killing. They're still mulling a lawsuit against investigators for falsely accusing Larson of the crime, he said.

On the night the officer was shot, Larson's mother was worried that he was suicidal and alerted Cold Spring police. Decker, who was making a welfare check on Larson, was shot near the staircase leading to Larson's apartment.

According to the stalking complaint, issued last week, he remained intensely interested in the case. He allegedly sent the message "I promise I didn't do it" on Dec. 30 to the ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend says she received a text message at 12:46 a.m. on Jan. 4 that she believes came from Larson that stated: "News will be breaking in the Cold Spring case tomorrow."

Later that day, authorities announced they had found a shotgun they believed killed Decker. Eric J. Thomes, 31, who had access to the property where the gun was found, committed suicide as agents came to interview him about discrepancies in his story.

Staff writer Curt Brown contributed to this report. Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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