Littlewolf gets 40 years for killing man
Darrell Olson didn't mince words when he stood before a crowded courtroom Friday to ask that his son's killer be put away for a long time. "This thing doesn't deserve to breathe the same air we do," Olson said of Joshua Lee Littlewolf. "I hope he...
Darrell Olson didn't mince words when he stood before a crowded courtroom Friday to ask that his son's killer be put away for a long time.
"This thing doesn't deserve to breathe the same air we do," Olson said of Joshua Lee Littlewolf. "I hope he rots in hell. I really do. He's the devil."
Moments later, Judge Shaun Floerke sentenced Littlewolf to serve 40 years in prison, the maximum guideline sentence. He will have to serve at least two-thirds of that sentence before he could be eligible for release on good behavior.
Littlewolf, 43, was convicted in September by a jury for the April 2012 murder of 28-year-old Joshua Eric Olson at the Frances Skinner Apartments in Duluth. Representing himself in court, Littlewolf frequently clashed with Floerke and had several outbursts in the presence of jurors during the nearly three-week trial.
Given an opportunity to make a statement before sentencing, Littlewolf maintained his innocence, again claiming that Olson's murder was orchestrated.
"I understand Mr. Olson and the predicament of losing his son," he said. "But the Native Mob is the one who killed him. I ain't the one who killed him."
Floerke, who had warned Littlewolf not to debate the evidence of the case in his statement, then cut him off and immediately imposed the sentence.
In asking for the maximum sentence, prosecutor Nate Stumme cited Littlewolf's extensive criminal history, which includes at least eight previous assault convictions in Minnesota alone.
"His record is comprised almost entirely of assaultive behavior," Stumme said. "He didn't rack up a criminal history from writing bad checks."
Several of Olson's family members were present in the courtroom and wept during the hearing. Darrell Olson addressed the court on behalf of the family.
Olson described his son as his best friend and said not a day goes by without him thinking about his death. He talked about his son's three children, who were left without a father.
"We had good times and bad times, like every family," he said. "My son didn't deserve to die like this. To have him taken from us, it's unspeakable."
Floerke expressed sympathy for the family.
"I have three sons," he said. "I can't even imagine."
Outside the courtroom, Stumme applauded the sentence.
"Justice was served for everyone," he said. "The family received as much justice as allowed by law, as did Mr. Littlewolf."
Throughout the trial, Littlewolf denied being in the apartment at the time of Olson's killing. He admitted being in the apartment -- which was rented by Nakota Benjamin -- but said someone else, possibly Benjamin, committed the murder.
Littlewolf made the decision to discharge two public defenders in January, and after undergoing a competency evaluation, was allowed to represent himself. Since that time, he has received limited assistance from advisor Rex Laaksonen, a retired Cloquet attorney.
Littlewolf made his own opening and closing arguments, presented evidence, cross-examined the state's witnesses and called a few of his own. But during the course of the trial, he grew increasing frustrated, complaining about Floerke's rulings, the judicial system and media coverage of the trial.
In the trial's second week, following an outburst that prompted Floerke to review the courtroom security plan, Littlewolf decided to trade in the civilian clothes he was allowed to wear for his orange jail jumpsuit and handcuffs and shackles.
"This has not been a fair trial," he complained at the time.
An eight-woman, four-man jury found him guilty Sept. 27 after about two hours of deliberation.