Carlton County drops murder charges against 17-year-oldCharges against one of two people charged with killing Cristyna Leah Watson, of Floodwood, have been dropped.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Charges against one of two people charged with killing a Floodwood woman have been dropped.
Intentional second-degree murder charges were dismissed Thursday against Joseph Allen Yellow Jr., 17, in the death of Cristyna Leah Watson, whose body was discovered Oct. 4 outside a home on Reservation Road in Cloquet.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said new information emerged that led to Yellow’s release from Arrowhead Juvenile Detention Center earlier this month.
“[Investigators] conducted some follow-up and, as a result, we felt it responsible and ethical to dismiss the petition at this time for a lack of evidence that could sustain the delinquency petition,” Pertler wrote in an e-mail response.
Because Yellow is a minor, the charges took the form of a juvenile delinquency petition.
According to the now-dismissed petition, the Duluth teenager had told investigators that he was with Michael William Siewert and Watson when Siewert pulled the vehicle he was driving to the side of the road and they exited the vehicle.
Yellow said he saw Siewert strike Watson in the head with a hammer and he assisted with the killing by manually strangling her before the two concealed her body.
Pertler said his office still is waiting on technical evidence in the Watson homicide case. Once the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension completes its examination of all evidence, Pertler said it’s possible other people — including Yellow — could face charges.
Meanwhile, Yellow is being held at Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth on a recent probation violation. He was on probation for a 2011 felony assault committed when he was 15.
The Carlton County attorney said he doesn’t know when the forensic investigation will be completed in the homicide case. Though preliminary autopsy results indicated that Watson died as a result of homicidal violence by manual strangulation and that she sustained blunt-force trauma to the head, the County Attorney’s office does not have the final autopsy report yet.
Siewert, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder in Watson’s death. He has a contested omnibus hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday in State District Court in Carlton County.
Two others — Cloquet residents Alyssa Rae Peterson, 24, and Clifford James Thompson, 56 — have been charged with aiding an offender as an accomplice after the fact.
According to the criminal complaint charging Siewert:
Siewert — whom authorities have identified as a gang member of the Native Mob — and Peterson were in a romantic relationship. Cloquet police were investigating drug trafficking on Oct. 2 when Peterson said she had information regarding Native Mob gang activity and serious crimes in connection with Watson’s disappearance and disposal of her body at 213 Reservation Road, where Thompson lives.
Siewert is accused of taking Watson’s cell phone and her 2005 gray Pontiac Grand Prix, which he drove to the Twin Cities and sold to another party in exchange for controlled substances, according to the complaint. A search warrant filed in the case stated that Peterson told investigators that Siewert traded Watson’s car to a woman in the Twin Cities for two ounces of methamphetamine.
After receiving information from Peterson and other witnesses, law enforcement executed numerous search warrants. Using cadaver dogs, the victim’s body was found outside Thompson’s residence, where Siewert had been staying temporarily.