Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 24, 2000

Jaster pleaded guilty to murder prior to retrial

By Gail Lipe

Douglas Leon Jaster, 41, of Hutchinson, pleaded guilty to murder before the case made it to re-trial on July 11. He was being re-tried on the murder of Michael Toovey in 1998.

As a result of pleading guilty, Jaster was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was a reduction from the 20 years he was originaly sentenced.

Toovey was found dead in his home at 510 E. Highway 7 by the Hutchinson Police Department in February 1998. He had died from multiple blunt-force trauma, and appeared to have been severely beaten.

According to Mike Junge, McLeod County attorney, Jaster pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder while committing a felony and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jaster was found guilty by a McLeod County jury of second-degree murder while committing a felony and one felony count of second-degree assault in November, 1998. In January 1999, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

According to court documents, Jaster appealed his case on the grounds that there was an error in the instructions given to the jury and prosecutorial misconduct. The appellate court of the state of Minnesota reversed the conviction, and Jaster was to have a retrial on July 11.

"The prior sentence was an upward departure of the presumptive sentence of 159 to 171 months," said Junge.

Junge said there was a need for finality with the case, both as a prosecutor and for Toovey's daughter. Since Jaster pleaded guilty, the chances are remote that he would be granted another appeal.

"Generally, the court looks upon a plea as final," said Junge.

Jaster used the Alford plea, which means he pleaded guilty but did not admit that he actually committed the murder.

Junge said there were other factors involved in the plea negotiation with Jaster. He said the passage of time, which makes recall of the incident harder for witnesses, and the medical condition of one of the witnesses played a part in the negotiations.

Also, the slight possibility that Jaster may have ended up back on the street.


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