COURTS: Accused Downwind Accomplice Pleads Not Guilty

Brandon Rossbach

Brandon Rossbach

Bemidji Pioneer‎, July 5, 2016

BEMIDJI—A Bemidji man accused of helping burn and bury the body of Rose Downwind pleaded not guilty to aiding an offender Tuesday.

Brandon Rossbach, 31, is charged with one count of aiding an offender in connection with Downwind’s murder, for which her former boyfriend Marchello Cimmarusti pleaded guilty in April. Cimmarusti told the court that after he “lost control and snapped,” killing Downwind, he contacted his friend Christopher John Davis, also charged with aiding an offender.

After Davis drove to Bemidji from his home in the Twin Cities and went into the basement of the home where Downwind was killed, he then left and returned with Rossbach, Cimmarusti said. According to Cimmarusti, the three men took Downwind’s body northwest of Bemidji where they burned and buried it.

Rossbach has maintained his innocence since Cimmarusti named him as an accomplice.

Supporters of both Downwind and Rossbach were present at Tuesday’s hearing, during which Judge Paul Benshoof heard arguments regarding a change of venue motion Rossbach’s attorneys filed July 1. Rossbach’s attorney Kassius Benson requested that his client’s trial be moved to Hennepin County or Ramsey County, because of the extensive media coverage of Downwind’s death and the community’s sympathy for her family.

Attorneys prosecuting Rossbach, including Beltrami County Attorney Annie Claesson-Huseby opposed the change of venue. Benshoof has not yet ruled on the motion.

Rossbach will appear in court for a pre-trial hearing Sept. 27. His jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 17. If convicted, Rossbach faces up to 20 years in prison. Davis’ next court date is Friday and Cimmarusti will be sentenced Oct. 28.