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Bayfield County man guilty of killing neighbor

Randy Erickson faces up to 60 years in prison for the May 2020 shooting death of Michael Kinney.

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WASHBURN — A Bayfield County man has been found guilty of murdering his neighbor after a years-long feud.

A jury on Thursday convicted Randy W. Erickson, 65, of second-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of 64-year-old Michael P. Kinney.

Prosecutors had sought a first-degree conviction, which carries mandatory life imprisonment. But the 12-member panel settled for the Class B felony, which carries up to 60 years in prison.

According to a criminal complaint, law enforcement was called to C&W Trucking, 85540 County Highway J, on the morning of May 8 because Kinney reportedly jumped out in front of a dump truck and was waving a yellow safety vest in the air. The employee who was driving the truck told authorities he was hitting the brake to go down the hill at the time, and Kinney hit the truck with his hands as the truck passed him by.

Law enforcement was aware of a long history of tension and frustration among Kinney, C&W Trucking co-owner Erickson, Erickson's employees and Erickson's wife. In late 2018, Erickson was granted a restraining order against Kinney that was still in effect at the time of the shooting.

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Kinney denied jumping in front of the truck and told a Bayfield County deputy that Erickson's wife had thrown a rock at his car.

That evening, the woman told an investigator that she went to Kinney's house to talk to him about what happened that morning. She said Kinney kicked her and she rolled on the ground. She told authorities she had been drinking before she went to talk to Kinney.

After his wife got home and told him she received bruises from Kinney, Erickson said he put pants on and went to the garage.

Erickson and his daughter, described as a witness, took off in the truck for Kinney's home, the complaint said. Erickson's daughter called Bayfield County Dispatch three times to get law enforcement to the scene. On the third call, she said she needed an ambulance because her dad shot Kinney, the criminal complaint said.

Erickson told the officers who responded to the scene that he shot Kinney after Kinney struck him with a shovel and beat up his wife.

"No one's going to hurt my kids and my wife, no one ... I'm not going to put up with anyone who beats my wife ... your mom came home beat-up and I just couldn't stand that," Erickson said during jail calls discussing the events, according to the criminal complaint.

The verdict came after a two-week trial in Bayfield County Circuit Court. Erickson, who had been free on bond since days after the shooting, was ordered back into custody by Judge Angeline Winton.

A sentencing date was not immediately scheduled.

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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 tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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