Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff reports
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

In death of toddler, suspect Jonathan Loun faces upgraded murder charges


Charges against Jonathan Michael Loun, the man who is accused in the death of a Sandstone toddler, have been upgraded to first-degree murder.

County Attorney Reese Frederickson originally charged Loun with second-degree murder, with the maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. The amended charge seeks Loun to serve the rest of his life in prison.

Loun, 31, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of Dante Sears, 3, who died following the assault.

On Tuesday, September 29, at 1:30 p.m., Loun appeared in court for a contested omnibus hearing. Frederickson previously filed a notice seeking an aggravated sentence in the case, citing several examples.

To receive a first-degree murder charge, a grand jury must approve it within two weeks. These are secret, but Frederickson said he expected the deadline to be met.

According to Minnesota Statute 609.185, a charge of first-degree murder can be sought if the person “causes the death of a minor while committing child abuse, when the perpetrator has engaged in a past pattern of child abuse upon a child and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.” The statute lists six other circumstances in which this charge can be sought.

The amended complaint included several interviews by local authorities of women who used to date Loun, two of whom said he either made threats against them, or their children.

In the filing for aggravated circumstances in the most recent case, Frederickson noted that Sears was absolutely vulnerable due to age, infirmity or reduced physical or mental capacity, and the offender knew or should have known of this vulnerability; and the victim was treated with particular cruelty for which the individual offender should be held responsible.

Frederickson further noted that Sears was “absolutely vulnerable” due to his age and that Loun was in charge of his care that evening in which Sears was severely beaten. Frederickson noted seven hours passed between the assault and when medical care was received, even though there is a hospital just four blocks away from the residence in which the assault happened.

Loun was caring for Sears on August 25, when his girlfriend was working an overnight shift. When the mother returned home, she found her child severely assaulted, bleeding from the mouth and unresponsive. Sears was taken off of life support on August 29.

Along with the assault charges against women, in 2006 Loun was also convicted of criminal vehicular homicide.

Bail was previously set at $1 million with conditions.

This is one of two murder cases that are being charged by the Pine County Attorney’s Office. In March, Robert Sam Raisch Jr. was charged on three counts, including murder in the second-degree, involving the death of James Shepardson, who was found deceased following a house fire in Finlayson on Hammond Road. A county medical examiner conducted an autopsy in this case and found several depressed skull fractures and ruled the death a homicide. Investigators discovered there was an individual living with Shepardson who was recently released from prison, Raisch, and conducted several interviews with others who said Raisch was responsible for the death, according to court records.


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