3/21/2019 12:58:00 PM Judge rejects Menne's petition for new trial
There will not be a new trial for Alexander Menne.
The Lindstrom resident is serving 86 months in prison for his conviction on third degree murder in the 2016 death of Cameron Johnson, Chisago City. The cause of death was an overdose attributed to fentanyl-laced drugs provided by Menne, that were found to be the proximate cause of death.
The issue of a new trial arose when an attorney (not the one who represented Menne at trial) filed a petition October 3, 2018 for post conviction relief; citing his client’s inability to recall his trial.
Menne was asserting he was over-prescribed anti-anxiety medication that negatively affected his ability to participate in his own defense. A hearing January 2, 2019 before Judge Bollman presented evidence which she took under advisement. On March 11 Judge Bollman ruled there is no basis for a new trial.
She said the burden is on the petitioner when seeking a petition for post conviction relief, which had not been done.
In her findings, the judge noted Menne’s relatives had testified at the petition hearing that he had interacted with them during his trial and while they noted he was lethargic and somewhat withdrawn, there was nothing extraordinary about his demeanor. His trial attorney testified that he had provided Menne with a notebook to send messages back and forth at the defense table during the trial, and Menne had utilized it to communicate. Cell phone text messages from, and to, Menne around the few days of trial also referenced proceedings and what was happening.
Menne asserted that he recalled his jury selection, but couldn’t remember anything until he “woke up” in Pine County jail after the trial concluded. In jail, where he has been since he was sentenced February 22, 2018, he was able to read the trial transcript. He told his new lawyer it contained things he said he would have alerted his lawyer to as being incorrect if he’d been following the proceedings at the level he should.
Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter said the findings in this case were appropriate but stressed, it’s a basic principle of the criminal justice system that a defendant be able to consult with counsel, understand proceedings and participate in his own defense.
She expalined, “Judges go to great lengths to ensure a defendant knows and understands what’s going on in the courtroomand even allow for defendants to ask questions.”