After being held for the past 14 months on charges of fatally stabbing a man in a Dallas area hotel more than 30 years ago, a Twin Cities man who lived an unassuming suburban dad's existence for decades is heading back home as Texas officials sort out complications analyzing DNA evidence in his case and others dating back many years.
Robert A. Otteson, 55, left the Denton County jail Monday morning without having to post monetary bail as his first-degree murder trial is put on hold indefinitely. Otteson was arrested and charged last summer in the killing of 42-year-old San Antonio businessman Francisco Narvaez in 1983 in a hotel room.
Otteson was greeted at jail by his brother Steve, and the two were driving back to Minnesota.
"I talked to him for about five minutes the other day and went down and got him," said Steve Otteson, who added that his brother was thrilled with even this temporary time out of custody.
Until his apprehension on Aug. 12, 2014, at his Lakeville home, Otteson had been living in the house with his wife and children since the mid-1990s.
The defense and prosecution in Otteson's case last week agreed to the case being continued. The trial had been scheduled to start next week.
"We had many meetings on both sides with the judge" about whether Otteson should be released pending trial, said Jamie Beck, spokeswoman for the Denton County district attorney's office.
Conditions for Otteson's release on $300,000 unsecured bond require that he remain in Dakota County when not traveling to Denton County for court proceedings. He must wear an electronic monitoring device, check in weekly by phone with the Denton County probation office and surrender his passport.
Beck said her district attorney's office and others across the state are awaiting establishment of new "protocols going forward for DNA mixture analysis" after "science problems" surfaced earlier this year.
Last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety notified prosecutors about the new standard being needed in the analysis of "mixed DNA." That refers to when more than one person's DNA is found on evidence. That means a re-examination is needed of the "mixed DNA" in Otteson's case, Beck said.
Otteson's attorney, Earl Dobson, explained Monday that his client was ready to go to trial, but the prosecution "had enough of a concern" about some of its DNA evidence "that they were not ready for trial."
Dobson said his client wants his day in court, but "if there's going to be a delay, you're much happier to be waiting at home with family than waiting in jail. But he knows the charges are still out there."
Police say that after Narvaez's death in September 1983, Otteson fled to Oklahoma City and settled in the Twin Cities. He and his wife raised two children.