MN Court of Appeals reverses district court ruling, juvenile should be certified as an adult

Thursday,

When 16-year-old Jered Ohsman was arrested in 2019 for a series of robberies, a burglary, and a murder during a carjacking, he was old enough to be certified to stand trial as an adult. Ohsman pleaded guilty in adult court. His companion on some of the crimes, including the murder, was 15 years old at the time of the crimes, being only a few weeks younger than Oshman.  A Hennepin District Court judge ruled he should remain in juvenile court. That decision would keep the young man in the juvenile detention system for only the next four years, after which he would be released.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office appealed that decision. On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s ruling and held the young man should be certified as an adult. His attorneys have already stated they will appeal the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“This is an important decision, not only for this case, but in future juvenile cases involving serious crimes,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “The legislature and the courts have made it very clear that in considering how to treat a criminal who is under 16, the overarching concern is public safety. By that standard, this young man definitely should be certified as an adult.”

On June 11, 2019, Ohsman and the 15-year-old companion saw Steven Markey sitting in his parked car near the intersection of 14th Avenue NE and Tyler Street NE. Both boys had semi-automatic handguns and Ohsman ordered Markey out of the car. Markey tried to drive away and the youths fired at the car, killing Markey.

Ohsman and the young man were arrested early the next morning. Ohsman was charged with burglary, motor vehicle theft, and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, all of which occurred after the murder. Ohsman pleaded guilty to the murder in March 2020 and was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison.

In the meantime, Hennepin County District Court Judge Amy Dawson was holding hearings on whether to certify the 15-year-old as an adult on three charges: second-degree murder and two separate counts of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery.  Judge Dawson heard testimony from many individuals, including three psychologists, and entered numerous exhibits into evidence. Judge Dawson concluded that the young man should not be certified as an adult.

In the opinion filed Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals noted that when considering certification as an adult for someone under 15, the law requires the judge to consider six public safety factors. The appellate judges unanimously ruled that five of the six public safety factors weighed in favor of certification. The court concluded, “Because the district court made errors of law in its analysis of public-safety factors, we conclude that the district court abused its discretion in determining that public safety was served by EJJ rather than adult certification.”