Jury trial begins for northwest Minnesota man accused of murdering his wife
The trial is expected to last two weeks, beginning Monday, Sept. 26 and ending Friday, Oct. 7.
THIEF RIVER FALLS — The trial for an Oklee, Minnesota man accused of murdering his wife last year began on Monday, Sept. 26, with jury members hearing testimonies from ambulance staff, members of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Thief River Falls Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the victim’s brother.
Eric Reinbold, 46, is accused of killing his wife Lissette Reinbold, 34, on July 9, 2021. When Lissette’s body was found, her death was determined to be from blood loss and classified a homicide. Reinbold evaded arrest until he was located by authorities on Aug. 4, 2021.
In his opening statement, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General John Gross told the jury a written statement was found inside Reinbold’s garage which read, “Jesus, forgive me for my sins.”
Gross also told the jury that, in 2018, Reinbold said if he ever found out his wife was cheating on him, he would kill her. Gross mentioned arguments over text message between Reinbold and Lissette about sex, finances, and Lissette’s employment.
“You’ll see that Lissette and Eric bicker, and they bicker about what all Americans do —money and sex,” said defense attorney Bruce Rivers.
Rivers primarily focused his opening statement on what he perceived to be a lack of sufficient evidence. He told the jury there will be no direct evidence to answer the question of who killed Lissette.
“It is a circumstantial case,” said Rivers.
Emergency responders arrived at the Reinbold property for a medical call on July 9, 2021, and met one of Lissette Reinbold’s children riding his bike down the driveway.
When asked by volunteer EMT Douglas Cote what he was doing, the child said he was going to tell his stepdad his mom was sick. Lissette’s body was located by emergency responders in the driveway. She had dirt on her clothes, multiple stab wounds, and flies around her body. Her shoes and phone were near her body.
Reinbold could not be located. He had spent the night in his camper with two of the children, but was gone when one child woke up in the morning, police testified on Monday.
In the month or so leading up to Lissette’s death, there were internet searches made on Reinbold’s laptop which were presented to the court. According to Michael Roff, one of the state’s witnesses and an investigator for the Thief River Falls Police Department, there were searches for the following made throughout June and early July 2021: signs your wife is cheating on you; how to use voice recorder on phone; TruthFinder (a background check website); portable power bank; magnesium fire starters; foraging; solar powered refrigerators; how to clean and prepare snapping turtles; building shelters; edible bugs; when poison ivy season ends.
When questioning Roff, Rivers asked about Reinbold’s camper, which Reinbold was known to stay in at times. To Roff’s knowledge, the camper did not have electricity, heat, a refrigerator, etc.
For the first day of trial, opening statements were made and the state presented nine witnesses: Mario Ignacio Garza Jr. (Lissette’s brother), Douglas Cote (EMT); Tracy Cote (EMT); Seth Vettleson (Chief Deputy of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office); David Lovly (part-time Deputy Sheriff); Michael Roff (an investigator for the Thief River Falls Police Department); Philip Hodapp (Special Agent at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigations); Ward Williams (Special Agent at the Minnesota BCA); and Raymond Kuznai (Pennington County Sheriff).
Witnesses were questioned by Gross or assistant county attorney Max Lacoursiere, and asked follow-up questions by Rivers.
For the second day of trial, Tuesday, Sept. 27, it is anticipated the following will present as witnesses: Susan Reinbold, other members of the county sheriff’s office, and those who caught footage of Reinbold on their trail cameras.
Reinbold is charged with second degree murder with intent, and second degree murder while committing assault.