Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 7, 2003

Waverly man sentenced to life in prison for murder

A Waverly man has been sentenced to life in prison for the December 2000 shooting death of Dustin Jirasek at his Minnetonka home, according to Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar.

Last month, a jury convicted Michael James Dahlin, 24, Waverly, of first degree murder. Thursday, Hennepin District Judge Thor Anderson sentenced Dahlin to life in prison. He must serve a minimum of 30 years before he is eligible for parole.

Dahlin's co-defendant, Mark Owen Staats, 25, was also sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first degree murder in 2001.

Dahlin's trial was delayed twice - first because of a pre-trial appeal on a search-and-seizure issue, then again while awaiting a Minnesota Supreme Court decision on the admissibility of DNA evidence.

The judge noted that, in advance of the sentencing, he received 37 victim impact statements from Dustin Jirasek's family and friends. Jirasek's widow, mother, sister and a member of his band also at the sentencing hearing.

On the evening of Dec. 16, 2000, Jirasek was shot at point blank range with a shotgun while standing in the doorway of his Minnetonka home. He died immediately from a single shotgun blast to the heart.

Minnetonka Police quickly identified Dahlin as a suspect because he had made several threats toward Jirasek. Jirasek worked with Dahlin's girlfriend, and Dahlin believed they were having an affair.

In addition, Dahlin had recently auditioned for Jirasek's band at Jirasek's house, but band members had rejected him because of his racist comments and white supremacy tattoos. Dahlin's girlfriend said that Dahlin was very agitated about the perceived affair in the days preceding the shooting.

According to Klobuchar, the following series of events took place: on the early evening of Dec. 16, Dahlin had left his house in Waverly and picked up his friend, Mark Staats at his home in St. Anthony.

They then traveled to Minnetonka and stopped at a K-Mart store, buying a box of 20-gauge shotgun shells and two ski masks. They proceeded to Jirasek's house, where Dahlin committed the murder. Dahlin and Staats then drove to a wooded area, disposed of the weapon and went drinking at a bar.

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