Time to think about the statute of limitations?

Like many Minnesotans, I did something last night I rarely do. I left the porch light on.

It was all we could do in the wake of Saturday’s news of the discovery of Jacob Wetterling.

Well, perhaps not all. Perhaps we can talk about why there’s a statute of limitations in Minnesota for kidnapping and raping children.

Under Minnesota law, indictments or complaints must be made within nine years after the alleged crime was committed or three years after it was reported to law inforcements, whichever is later.

  • Mike Worcester

    I’m just going to speculate that there was some logical reason for those time limits when they were enacted. Not sure why but there they are and certainly there is nothing wrong with taking another look.

    I’ll presume there will also be a murder charge of some sort forthcoming and last time I checked, there is no statute of limitations on that.

    • I saw a report on TV last night that the deal was he won’t be tried for the murder in exchange for revealing the location. He’ll apparently plead guilty to child porn charges that are unrelated. The report claimed the Wetterling family signed off on the reported deal.

      • Mike Worcester

        Wow interesting. Ty for that. Hopefully the child porn charges land him in jail for the remainder of his days.

      • Rob

        Wow. I guess if there’s a silver lining under this arrangement, it’s that Heinrich will meet some nice people in prison who will make his incarceration experience even more enjoyable.

      • John O.

        This is one of the rare times I wish any and all harm to come to this repugnant excuse for a human. His living conditions behind bars are probably better than where he was previously. Three squares, health care, cable–all at taxpayer expense. What more can an old, alleged child molester and murderer ask for? I’m putrified.

    • Thomas Mercier

      I suspect it was for the protection of the accused and that whole innocent until proven guilty thing that is a fundamental aspect of preserving the rights of all citizens. In an era of only witness accounts and much more simplistic forensics than what we have now, seven years is a long time.
      Admittedly the law should probably be updated to permit exemptions to the limits when irrefutable evidence becomes available due to advances in technology. But then again our legislature probably can’t handle that kind of challenge.

    • DavidG

      Witnesses move or die, memories fade, and distort, and become more unreliable.

      Even with the technological advances, DNA and other physical evidence is lost, becomes contaminated and degrades.

      On the other hand, technological advances make it possible to examine
      physical evidence that might have been useless or unreliable in the
      past, so re-examining the statute of limitations is certainly appropriate.

      Another factor to consider: where is the right balance for devoting resources to these older cases and new cases?

  • Anna

    When I read the headline I just cried and I still cry just thinking about it. Then I get angry.

    That POS knew where Jacob was all these years yet denied having anything to do with it.

    The only thing that comforts me is that the Wetterling family at least will get some closure now after waiting 27 years, hoping against hope that he was still alive.

    I am sure that every parent in Minnesota will hold their children just a little closer today.

    For the Wetterling family, know that the entire state of Minnesota mourns with you.

    Rest in peace, Jacob.

  • Rob

    The irony is that there’s no statute of limitations on murder, but that under the deal the Wetterlings reportedly signed off on with LEOs, Heinrichs avoids being charged with/tried for and convicted of same…

  • Gary F

    He will “slip and fall” or have an “accident” in prison and won’t last long.

  • Johnny Thorne

    There is no statute limitations on murder.

    • Rob

      As noted.