Larry W. Brigman stood before Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary on Friday and told him he remembers being with Dale Heinold on May 14, 1989, drinking with him and stabbing him to death.
"What happened after you murdered Mr. Heinold?" the judge asked.
"That's mainly where I had the blackout," said Brigman, now 59. "Bugged out."
Brigman pleaded Friday to one count of second-degree murder. The plea was an Alford plea because Brigman admits that he committed the crime but doesn't remember the details.
Brigman has been imprisoned in Ohio since pleading guilty to a similar stabbing death there in February 1989.
He was identified as a suspect in the death of Heinold, 54, after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found a match to his DNA in a national database in 2006. He was charged in February 2007 with two counts of second-degree murder.
Heinold's sister found his body in his apartment in St. Paul's Battle Creek neighborhood on May 20, 1989, after he failed to show up to help move some family members. Authorities said he had been fatally stabbed some days earlier.
Prosecutor Mark Hammer questioned Brigman about the crime and laid it out in broad strokes Friday:
A man and his young son saw the victim walking with a man later identified as Brigman on May 14, 1989. After Heinold's body was found, the medical examiner ruled that he had been stabbed more than 30 times.
Blood that didn't belong to the victim was found on a Band-Aid wrapper, a bathroom faucet and some paper in the living room.
Heinold's car was found May 21, 1989, in Zanesville, Ohio, and witnesses reported seeing a man with a heavily bandaged hand get out of it. Brigman was arrested July 30, 1989, in Columbus, Ohio, in connection with a homicide earlier that year.
Leary also questioned Brigman on Friday about whether he understood he was giving up his right to trial and about whether he remembered the crime.
"Yes, sir, I do, certain things," Brigman told him. " ... I can bring up a scenario of what I think happened."
Leary told him he wasn't interested in what he thought had happened, but in what he remembered.
"Do you remember assaulting Mr. Heinold with a knife several times and Mr. Heinold dying as a result?" Leary asked.
"Yes," Brigman said.
Brigman will be sentenced June 25. The plea agreement calls for him to be sentenced according to state guidelines that were in place in 1988, most likely 18 years, with two-thirds of that in prison and one-third on supervised release. The sentence will be served after Brigman's sentence in Ohio is completed in 2020.
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992