Authorities drop case against man who falsely confessed to 2016 Duluth homicide

Orin Bernard Vann allegedly tried to take responsibility for the shooting of Eric Wayne Burns.


Prosecutors have dropped the remaining charge against a man who authorities said falsely confessed to a homicide in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Orin Bernard Vann, 56, initially told police he shot 47-year-old Eric Wayne Burns at the Bedrock Bar in October 2016, according to court documents. Authorities later charged Aaron Demetrius Humphreys with the crime, but a jury in July 2018 acquitted him of intentional second-degree murder after two mistrials.

All three men had been at the bar, 2023 W. Superior St., when Humphreys was seen on surveillance video knocking Burns to the ground and repeatedly kicking him. Burns then left briefly before returning to the front door, where he was gunned down as Humphreys confronted him.

Vann, when located by police at a downtown bar about an hour and a half later, was described as "distraught" and tried to take responsibility. But the surveillance video led to authorities identifying Humphreys as the shooter. Humphreys, however, claimed at trial that it was another man he knew only by the nickname "Memphis" who shot Burns from outside the bar.

After Humphreys' acquittal, authorities dropped one of Vann's charges — aiding an offender by taking responsibility for criminal acts. St. Louis County prosecutor Nate Stumme last week cited "interests of justice" in dismissing a remaining firearm violation ahead of a trial that had been set to begin Tuesday.


Humphreys was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault. He was sentenced to five years in prison and is set for supervised release in February.

Orin Vann

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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