(Daily Mail) – The lawyer for an elderly man accused of fatally shooting a long-ago classmate in a grudge he apparently gripped for decades has entered a not guilty plea and requested a jury trial.
Carl Ericsson, 73, of Watertown, South Dakota, is charged with first-degree murder in the January 31 killing of retired Madison High School teacher and track coach Norman Johnson.
Defense attorney Scott Bratland entered the plea on Ericsson’s behalf during a court hearing today.
Ericsson’s trial is slated to begin on July 9.
Mr Johnson, 72, was shot twice in the face after answering the door at his house in Madison.
Shortly after the shooting, Johnson’s wife, Barbara, found him lying on the floor and saw a man walking to a dark sedan parked outside.
Investigators say that soon after Mr Johnson was shot, a man matching the suspect’s description was spotted trying to enter the home of another retired Madison High School teacher and coach, Orlyn Larson.
Officers collected two flashlights and photographed tire and shoe impressions outside of the house.
A resident then reported seeing a man a quarter-mile away outside the home of Dick Ericsson, Carl Ericsson’s brother, who said his older sibling is depressed and an alcoholic.
Dick Ericsson said in an affidavit that Ericsson was a sports manager at Madison High years ago and there was an incident in which Johnson did something to him.
‘Since that time, over 50 years ago, Carl has held a grudge against Norm Johnson,’ the affidavit said.
‘Dick said that he brought up the name of Norm Johnson some time back and Carl was still upset about the situation and called Norm Johnson a son of a bitch.’
Earlier this month, a judge denied a request to have Ericsson’s bond set at $100,000, saying he was a potential flight or suicide risk.
Carl Ericsson was arrested after police reported seeing items that piqued their interest – including two flashlights similar to those seized outside of Larson’s house – and a Glock hangun.
With Ericsson’s permission, officers looked at his Ford Taurus and noted that the tire treads appeared consistent with tracks left at two of the Madison homes.
During an interview at the Watertown Police station, Ericsson acknowledged being in Madison on on the night of the murder and having the handgun with him, but denied remembering Mr Johnson or going to his house, according to the affidavit.
Mr Johnson’s murder is the first in Madison since 1906.