Court reverses murder conviction over self-incrimination violations
A Bloomington man who was convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree murder has gotten his conviction reversed.
Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Skylar Edmond Labarge, 29, had his right against self-incrimination violated by law enforcement and a district court. Therefore, the court reversed his conviction.
Labarge and his half-brother, Preston Sharlow, were charged in connection to the death of William Albrecht.
Albrecht had been reported missing after he went to a bar in November 2019 and wasn’t heard from afterward. Officers later learned that he’d been lured to a home by Sharlow, who was using a woman’s phone. Once there, Sharlow and Labarge beat him until he died, then hid his body in a remote area in Woodbury.
Police arrested the two six days after Albrecht died.
During the interrogation, Labarge made comments that he would’ve requested an attorney if he would’ve known he was going to be questioned about a murder. The detectives questioning him didn’t stop to ask if he wanted a lawyer present.
Labarge and Sharlow were later convicted and sentenced in September 2021 to 200 months and 380 months, respectively. However, Labarge argued that the detectives not stopping to ask if he wanted a lawyer violated his right against self-incrimination, as did the district court’s failure to suppress a statement he made after his comments about a lawyer.
The state countered by saying Labarge didn’t equivocally state that he wanted a lawyer and, even if he did, he immediately reengaged with police so the interrogation could continue.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals disagreed with the state and noted that the Minnesota Constitution has greater protection against self-incrimination than the U.S. Constitution. Under state law, the court says the detectives should’ve stopped Labarge and asked if he wanted an attorney when he mentioned one. Because of that, his statements during the interrogation shouldn’t have been allowed at trial and the court reversed his conviction.
Sharlow also appealed, arguing that the warrant authorizing police to search his home, where they found evidence implicating him in Albrecht’s murder, wasn’t justified. However, the appellate court disagreed with that and upheld his conviction.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for comment. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman responded, “We disagree with the court of appeals’ decision and will be asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the case.”