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Man on work release for Tower boy's fire death arrested again

Jesse Bonacci-Koski, of Duluth, was taken into custody Sunday after an alleged assault in the Independence area.

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DULUTH — A man on parole for the 2017 fire death of nephew in Tower has again been arrested, this time accused of assault and several other crimes.

Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski, 29, of Duluth, was taken into custody Sunday after an incident in New Independence Township, according to a citation filed Tuesday in State District Court.

Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski.jpg
Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski

No complaint or police reports have been filed, and the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to a request for further information. Bonacci-Koski is charged with misdemeanor counts of fifth-degree assault, obstructing the legal process, fourth-degree damage to property and fleeing a police officer.

Bonacci-Koski was sentenced to eight years in prison after he was convicted of several charges, including second-degree manslaughter, stemming from the August 2017 death of his 11-month-old nephew, Bentley Joe Lewis Koski.

He had been babysitting the boy but left him home alone for several hours, reportedly to get drugs and/or access Wi-Fi at a nearby business. He returned to find the house on fire; the boy was found unresponsive and pronounced dead from smoke inhalation.

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After less than two hours of deliberation Thursday, a jury in State District Court in Virginia found Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski guilty on all counts, including one charge of manslaughter/child endangerment; another of manslaughter/child neglect, plu...

A Virginia jury found Bonacci-Koski guilty of four crimes and Judge Gary Pagliaccetti sentenced him in October 2018 to just over eight years in prison. The Minnesota Court of Appeals later affirmed the conviction.

Under Minnesota law, offenders generally must serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody before they are eligible for supervised release. But Minnesota Department of Corrections records show that Bonacci-Koski was accepted for early work release in February. Under normal standards, he would have remained in custody until early 2023.

Bonacci-Koski remains under supervision until October 2025 and can be required to serve up to the entire 98-month sentence in custody. He is being held in the St. Louis County Jail without bail as a result of the alleged parole violation.

An arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The headline of this story was updated at 8:18 a.m. Sept. 8 to correct that Jesse Bonacci-Koski was on work release; Minnesota does not have parole. The story was originally posted at 7:45 a.m. Sept. 7. The News Tribune regrets the error.

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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