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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

[MN] Murder-charge expungement of chief's friend, Aaron Foster, hit a snag: His violent history

...The notoriety around the [Aaron Foster/Barbara] Winn case stems in part from Foster's close relationship with former St. Paul police chief William Finney, who served as best man at one of Foster's weddings and eventually hired him to work in the police department... Patty Bruce, Winn's sister-in-law, told the court Foster has a history of violence that must not be ignored. She said [Ramsey County District Chief Judge Kathleen] Gearin herself had signed an emergency order for protection requested by Lisa Foster, one of Foster's ex-wives, in 2002. Gearin expressed surprise, saying she did not recall having done so. A copy of the court record shows Gearin co-signed a court referee's order. "I don't think expungement should be a revolving door for violent offenders"...

..."Even Foster's patron, Former Police Chief William Finney, has acknowledged in these records that Foster had a habit of pointing his gun at people. See Schultz Aff. Ex. 6. Chief Finney also acknowledged Foster's habit of using physical force against women. See Schultz Aff. Ex. 6"...

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Barbara "Bobbi" Winn was 35 when she was killed.

DECISION DELAYED FOR 1981 SHOOTING SUSPECT
Minneapolis Star Tribune
April 20, 2011
[Excerpts] Aaron Foster Sr.'s request to have a 2007 murder charge expunged was taken under advisement Wednesday. Foster was acquitted in 2008 of the charge levied against him for the 1981 shooting death of his girlfriend, Barbara Winn. Winn's relatives had expected Ramsey County District Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin to make a ruling from the bench. But Gearin delayed her decision by giving attorneys more time to submit material to support their stance. Foster's attorney, Earl Gray, argued that his client deserved expungement because he hasn't been arrested in 30 years. Foster needs to clear his record so he can find better work, Gray said. Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Laura Rosenthal argued that "facts" in the county's memorandum showed that keeping the record open was in the public interest because of the seriousness of the charge... An attorney for Winn's relatives, David Schultz, asked the judge for more time to submit transcripts and other documents. Gearin gave Schultz two weeks to submit materials and Gray two weeks from that to respond... [Full article here]

RAMSEY COUNTY JUDGE WANTS AARON FOSTER SR.'S ACTIONS CHRONICLED ON DAY OF MAPLEWOOD WOMAN'S 1981 DEATH: Foster seeks to erase murder acquittal from his record; court wants to assess risk
Pioneer Press
Posted: 04/21/2011
[Excerpts] A Ramsey County judge [Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin] said the question of Aaron Foster Sr.'s ongoing danger to the community "concerns me deeply," though she delayed a decision Wednesday on whether to erase the criminal record of his acquittal in a murder case... "The actions (Foster) took on the date of death," besides the allegation of the murder itself, "I want to know that," Gearin said. Foster was tried for the murder of Barbara "Bobbi" Winn in 2008 — 27 years after she died in her Maplewood home at age 35. Most evidence in the case was lost or destroyed. A jury acquitted him... Attorney David Schultz, who represents Winn's family, said he would provide the court with trial court records and police reports... Laura Rosenthal of the Ramsey County attorney's office argued that Gearin should consider the way Foster disposed of the gun that killed Winn on May 8, 1981. After the gun went off in Winn's home, striking her in the heart, Foster took the weapon and threw it out the window of his car. At trial, he contended the shooting was a suicide or an accident... Foster has had no criminal convictions since Winn died, [Foster's attorney, Earl] Gray said. But Patty Bruce, Winn's sister-in-law, told the court Foster has a history of violence that must not be ignored. She said Gearin herself had signed an emergency order for protection requested by Lisa Foster, one of Foster's ex-wives, in 2002. Gearin expressed surprise, saying she did not recall having done so. A copy of the court record shows Gearin co-signed a court referee's order. "I don't think expungement should be a revolving door for violent offenders," Bruce said. Foster was convicted in 1974 of assault and possession of a disabling chemical. Maplewood police noted they knew him for his "violent temper." He received a suspended sentence of 20 days. That charge later was expunged, Bruce said. In 1985, Foster's estranged wife, Linda Foster, told police Foster pointed a gun at her head and threatened to kill her, according to a police report. Foster was arrested but not charged. The notoriety around the Winn case stems in part from Foster's close relationship with former St. Paul police chief William Finney, who served as best man at one of Foster's weddings and eventually hired him to work in the police department. That relationship became an issue in the Ramsey County sheriff's race in 2006 when Finney challenged then-Sheriff Bob Fletcher... [Full article here]

UPDATE:

Excerpts from:

"MEMORANDUM OF LAW
IN OPPOSITION TO
PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT"

Filed in Ramsey County Court on May 4, 2011

"The family of decedent, Barbara L. Winn, opposes Petitioner Aaron Foster’s (“Foster”) Petition to expunge all records relating to the investigation and prosecution of Foster for murder. As shown in the additional evidence submitted and in the arguments below, the public’s interest and concerns for public safety clearly outweigh Foster’s interest in having these records expunged."

"The police records of the investigation into the death of Barbara Winn established that Foster is clearly a danger to the public. In a supplementary police report, Foster’s ex-wife, Linda, described Foster’s propensity to point his .38 special--the same gun used to shoot Barbara Winn-- at her; she stated that Foster did so more times than she could remember. See "Schultz Aff. Ex. 1. She even described how he shoved the gun into her chest. Expunging the police reports of this event will conceal important information from the public. The public’s need to know the dangers attendant upon association with Foster trumps his interest in sealing the records in this case."

"Even Foster's patron, Former Police Chief William Finney, has acknowledged in these records that Foster had a habit of pointing his gun at people. See Schultz Aff. Ex. 6. Chief Finney also acknowledged Foster's habit of using physical force against women. See Schultz Aff. Ex. 6."
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder unsolved unresolved minnesota state politics]

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