The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 23, 2013

Decision expected soon on whether Ewing insane

Judge should decide this week whether Ewing was insane

ST. PETER — In their closing arguments, a prosecutor and defense attorney both used the stars and the sun to make their point about whether Burton Ewing Jr. was sane when he attempted to kill his mother in May 2012.

Ewing's trial before District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel ended Sept. 12 after the testimony of several witnesses, including three experts who interviewed Ewing after the 2012 attack to determine if he understood what he did to his mother, Marlys Olson, was wrong.

Two of the experts concluded Ewing was mentally ill and experiencing delusions when he beat, choked and stabbed his mother at Seven Mile Creek County Park while on a day pass from the Minnesota Security Hospital. One expert sided with prosecutors, saying Ewing is mentally ill but he knew what he was doing was morally wrong.

“There is an allegory that helps to keep the facts of this case in perspective,” Michelle Zehnder Fischer, Nicollet County attorney, said in her closing arguments. “In this case, (Ewing's) status as a patient at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center has become the sun. To a lesser extent the fact that (Ewing) suffers from mental illness is used to further make the sun shine brighter.”

Fischer goes on to say that bright sun shine is hiding the stars, or what she believes are the most important facts about her case against Ewing: He was using his medication, showing no signs of psychosis and “had a clear plan to kill his mother.”

Ewing has been in the treatment center's security hospital since 1998. He was placed there after he was found innocent by reason of insanity after he beat his sister, Mary Beth Ewing, to death with a hammer. Ewing had been planning to kill Olson, who was Mary Beth's roommate at the time, but decided to kill his sister because his mother wasn't home.

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