A McLeod County man will get a second chance to defend himself after the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered a retrial this week in his domestic abuse murder case.
David Bustos, 47, of Silver Lake, was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse, and second-degree intentional murder. He stabbed his girlfriend, Dominga Limon, 40, of Glencoe, following an argument at her home on Feb. 21, 2012. Limon, a mother of three, died at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis two days later.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Bustos’ attorney wasn’t allowed to argue that the state didn’t prove Bustos had committed prior acts of domestic abuse. The ruling also said the judge gave the jury an incorrect legal definition of what murder while committing domestic abuse entailed.
The district court’s errors seriously affected the fairness, integrity and public reputation of Bustos’ judicial proceedings and a retrial on the first-degree domestic abuse murder is required, wrote Justice G. Barry Anderson. Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea and Justices Wilhelmina Wright and Christopher Dietzen dissented.
The Supreme Court didn’t find cause to overturn Bustos’ second-degree intentional murder charge.
Bustos was drunk when he repeatedly stabbed Limon to death after accusing her of getting ready to see a new boyfriend. During the trial, the prosecution introduced seven incidents of domestic abuse by Bustos against four people. Two of the incidents involved Limon. The prosecution was required to prove any previous incidents beyond a reasonable doubt.
In her dissent, Wright wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that granting a new trial in the face of overwhelming evidence encourages litigants to abuse the judicial process and bestirs the public to ridicule it. In Bustos’ case, granting a new trial was unwarranted, she wrote.