Judge denies deposition of Danny Heinrich in Rassier lawsuit

Dan Rassier was named as a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case. Danny Heinrich has since confessed to killing Wetterling in 1989. Photo: KSTP
Dan Rassier was named as a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case. Danny Heinrich has since confessed to killing Wetterling in 1989.

January 07, 2019 09:02 PM

A federal judge will not allow the attorney of a one-time person-of-interest in the Jacob Wetterling case to depose Danny Heinrich, the man who confessed to kidnapping and killing the 11-year-old St. Joseph boy.

The deposition would have been part of a lawsuit filed by Dan Rassier. Rassier, whose family owns a farm close to where the abduction occurred, filed the lawsuit against former Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner, Stearns County and BCA Agent Ken McDonald in the spring of 2017. 


Initially cleared as a suspect in the case, Rassier was named a person of interest after investigators dug up his farm in 2010 using a search warrant obtained on what the suit claims were fraudulent and illegal means.

In November 2017, United States District Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the portions of the lawsuit that claimed the search warrants were obtained by fraudulent or illegal means. The judge also dismissed McDonald as a party in the lawsuit.

RELATED: Lawyer for former Wetterling person of interest wants to depose Heinrich as part of lawsuit

However, the court did uphold Rassier's claims of First Amendment retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation, "stemming from Sanner labeling Rassier a person of interest."

According to court documents filed by Rassier's attorney, questions in the deposition would have concerned whether Heinrich drove down the Rassier driveway on the night Wetterling was abducted, the vehicles he used that day, if he was responsible for an attempted abduction in St. Joseph Township in July of that year, what vehicles he may have had access to and whether he was questioned or surveilled by law enforcement between July 3 and Oct. 22, 1989 (the night of Wetterling's abduction).

The order denying the deposition was issued Monday by Leo Brisbois 

In his order, Brisbois said the, "Plaintiffs have failed to make the requisite threshold showing as to how deposing Heinrich and the specific information being sought from him is relevant to their only three remaining claims against (the) Defendants for First Amendment retaliation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and defamation stemming from Defendant Sanner labeling Dan Rassier a person of interest."

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Ben Rodgers

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