Attorneys seek to move Last Place On Earth trial out of Duluth
As Last Place On Earth owner Jim Carlson serves a 17 1/2 -year federal sentence in prison for the sale of synthetic drugs, state prosecutors are still determining how to proceed with a similar case in state court.
As Last Place On Earth owner Jim Carlson serves a 17½-year federal sentence in prison for the sale of synthetic drugs, state prosecutors are still determining how to proceed with a similar case in state court.
“We’re still assessing our options going forward with this prosecution,” Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jon Holets said. “We’re thrilled with what’s occurred in federal court.”
Already sentenced for 51 federal crimes, Carlson still faces nine felony controlled substances charges in State District Court. His son, Joseph Gellerman, faces seven counts.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys have asked a judge to move a potential future trial to another county, citing substantial news coverage in Duluth.
A review hearing was held for Carlson and Gellerman on Monday in Duluth, but little was accomplished as Gellerman still awaits sentencing on two counts in U.S. District Court. Attorneys agreed to continue the hearing until Oct. 16.
Gellerman’s attorney, Charles Hawkins, notified the court that the federal sentencing would occur on Sept. 17 in Minneapolis. Prosecutors are seeking a one-year prison sentence for Gellerman, while the defense is arguing for probation, according to court documents.
The state charges could prove to be far more significant for Gellerman. Each fourth-degree count carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Carlson, who remains jailed and has not yet been moved to a federal prison facility, is already serving time on his lengthy sentence. But defense attorneys are hoping to reverse the conviction on appeal.
Hawkins recently filed a motion in state court asking that a potential trial be moved from St. Louis County because of pretrial publicity. He did not make any recommendations about another location.
“It would be essentially impossible to find fair and impartial jurors in St. Louis County due to the overwhelming prejudicial publicity Last Place On Earth and Jim Carlson have received,” Hawkins wrote.
Comparing the case to the infamous 1977 killings at the Glensheen mansion, Hawkins attached nearly 500 pages of local and regional newspaper articles to his motion.
“Not since the cases of Marjorie and Roger Caldwell has there been such prejudicial pretrial publicity about a case in St. Louis County,” he said.
Holets said he had not had a chance to review the motion and did not have a position on it. But the prosecutor acknowledged that the news coverage has been substantial.
“Obviously this case has received extensive coverage here, and I think it’s been covered almost as extensively in the Twin Cities,” he said. “And I don’t think we’ve had another case where the defendant has made so many statements in the media.”
The motion is expected to be taken up at the next hearing.