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Duluth man shows no remorse before murder sentencing

Terence Leon Callender expressed no remorse before being sentenced today in St. Louis County District Court, but he provided his reason for shooting and killing James "Jimmy" Alton Peterson to death outside the Hillside Laundry on July 29, 2008.

Terence Leon Callender
Terence Leon Callender pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the 2008 shooting death of James Peterson at Hillside Laundry in Duluth.

Terence Leon Callender expressed no remorse before being sentenced today in St. Louis County District Court, but he provided his reason for shooting and killing James "Jimmy" Alton Peterson to death outside the Hillside Laundry on July 29, 2008.

Two witnesses had reported to Duluth police that Callender told them that he and Peterson got into a silly fight over $20 and Peterson had slapped him. Callender allegedly then went to his apartment to retrieve the gun he used to shoot his victim.

"Me and him didn't get in no argument over $20 and he didn't slap me or nothing like that," Callender told 6th Judicial District Judge David Johnson. "He threatened -- he threatened me and my family. He said he had some videotape he was going to show to the Lake Superior Gang and Drug Task Force, so that's why that happened. It wasn't nothing about no argument over $20. None of that."

Johnson sentenced the 48-year-old Callender to 28 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement the defendant reached with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office. The defendant pleaded guilty Wednesday to intentional second-degree murder. He must serve two-thirds of that sentence in prison and one-third on supervised release. He was given credit for the 898 days he has served in jail awaiting a trial, which had been scheduled to start next week.

Peterson, who was 64 when he died, was caretaker of Hillside Laundry. He also worked for Senior Friend Home Care in Duluth and made daily visits to those requiring in-home assistance.

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Gina Dixon, a niece of Peterson's who also works as a grief counselor for Essentia Health, read a victim's impact statement to the court.

"He was a man of great personal dignity who was proud of his military service as a cook in the Army," she said. "He also served the local community where he lived and worked alongside others to help families' basic needs for food and safety. He was also very dedicated to the compassionate care of animals and worked to provide loving homes for abandoned animals. Though he had few financial resources, he was also a generous supporter of the food shelf and homeless shelters and organizations like CHUM, who serve the poor and those struggling with addictions."

Dixon said outside the courtroom after the hearing that she didn't know if her uncle was a police informant.

"He very much loved the community he lived in and wanted families in that neighborhood to feel safe and not to be threatened by crime and gang activity," she said.

Callender shot Peterson three times, with the first shot perforating his carotid artery. The next two shots passed through his lungs. He died from a loss of blood.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorneys James Nephew and Kristen Swanson prosecuted the case and issued a joint prepared statement, which read in part: "Jimmy's death was a great loss to our community. Our hearts go out to Jimmy's family who has endured so much pain with his untimely death. ... We want to recognize and express our thanks for the excellent work done by our law enforcement professionals in this investigation, particularly the Duluth Police Department, whose tireless efforts on this case made its conclusion possible."

Callender shook hands with his defense attorneys K. Scott Belfrey and Jonathan Schmid before being led from the courtroom by St. Louis County sheriff's deputies.

Related Topics: CRIME
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