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Duluth man wins reduced sentence in appeal

A Duluth man will serve nearly a seven-year shorter prison sentence after a state Court of Appeals decision sent his case back to the trial court for resentencing on Tuesday.

William Nelson
William Charles Nelson

A Duluth man will serve nearly a seven-year shorter prison sentence after a state Court of Appeals decision sent his case back to the trial court for resentencing on Tuesday.

William Charles Nelson, now 53, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault in a 2008 stabbing incident. Nelson stabbed Raymundo W. Morris, 31, multiple times in the chest after an argument that began July 31, 2008, outside the Fond-du-Luth Casino in downtown Duluth over a cigarette.

A St. Louis County jury found him guilty of the attack, and Sixth Judicial District Judge Sally Tarnowski sentenced Nelson to 183ยฝ months in prison in addition to the 80 months he had been sentenced to for a 2008 first-degree aggravated robbery conviction.

Nelson argued to the Court of Appeals that the district court abused its discretion by imposing a consecutive sentence, which was permissible under 2010 sentencing guidelines when he was sentenced on May 5, 2010. However, the Court of Appeals ruled that the sentencing guidelines in effect at the time of the 2008 offense did not permit a consecutive sentence for the attempted second-degree murder.

The appeals court remanded the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

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Tarnowski on Monday resentenced Nelson to the 183 months, 15 days in prison to be served at the same time as the 80-month sentence, which knocked six years, eight months from his sentence.

According to a witness quoted in the criminal complaint in the stabbing case, Nelson walked away nonchalantly after the stabbing and said, "I asked him for a cigarette. He should have given me a cigarette."

Morris was initially in critical condition from extreme blood loss.

Nelson has a lengthy criminal history that includes five previous assault charges as well as charges for domestic assault, possession of drugs, making terroristic threats, sale of amphetamines, theft and disorderly conduct.

Nelson fired his public defender before the trial and elected to defend himself.

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