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Charges still pending in Lakeside death; probation violation keeps suspect jailed

As the St. Louis County Attorney's Office continues its review of the death of Ryan Roessler, suspect Anthony Laspina will remain in custody due to a 2020 case.

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DULUTH — A preliminary manslaughter charge has been dropped for the suspect accused of fatally punching another man in the Lakeside-Lester Park neighborhood, but he will still remain in custody for the immediate future.

Anthony Thomas Laspina, 46, has been in the St. Louis County Jail since early Saturday, when he allegedly struck and killed Ryan Arthur Roessler, 42, during an argument at 105 N. 54th Ave. E.

After receiving a one-day extension Wednesday, the St. Louis County Attorney's Office did not file a formal criminal complaint Thursday. Nate Stumme, head of the agency's Duluth criminal division, told the News Tribune that the investigation "is still active" and did not provide any timeline for a charging decision.

Anthony Thomas Laspina.jpg
Anthony Thomas Laspina

But Laspina did appear in State District Court on Thursday morning to face an alleged probation violation stemming from the fight. He remains under supervision through November 2023 for an April 2020 incident in which he reportedly attacked and threatened several neighbors and police officers.

Laspina formally denied the probation violation. But with Judge Shawn Pearson ordering him to remain jailed pending further proceedings, the move essentially buys time for prosecutors to consider potential homicide charges.

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Roessler was found on the floor at Laspina's home and pronounced dead shortly after police were called at approximately 12:50 a.m. Saturday. Authorities said they learned the two men had been in a verbal argument and that Laspina punched the victim in the head, knocking him unconscious.

Laspina was taken to the Public Safety Building in Duluth, where he allegedly "caused damage to the interview room," before he was taken to jail on a preliminary charge of first-degree manslaughter.

PREVIOUSLY: Duluth homicide victim identified; suspect was on probation

Laspina received a stay of adjudication following the 2020 case, which would allow three felony counts of making threats of violence to stay off his record upon successful completion of three years of supervised probation.

Authorities said in the complaint that he chased a neighbor with a knife, also throwing the weapon at the victim, before barricading himself inside a basement workshop and repeatedly striking a police dog during his arrest.

Court documents state that Laspina "has a long history of physical violence due to mental illness, particularly when methamphetamine use is present." A judge had granted him the break from state sentencing guidelines due to his "demonstrated commitment to chemical dependency and mental health treatment."

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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