Whatever the merits of these assorted comments, they appeared to diminish when police, completing their re-investigation, arrested Beau on March 10 and promptly heard him confess to stabbing Geshick. Faced with this event, the prosecutors seemed to lose some of their enthusiasm for transporting justice over cultural borders. In fact, three days after the arrest, the authorities released Beau, whose real name turned out to be Britton Well.
The case was just too muddy, the county attorney's office explained. There were two confessions. There was conflicting testimony. Beau was claiming self-defense. Who knew what the truth was?
Under pressure from both the police and the jurors--"This makes a farce of the system, a charade," Rohwedder told reporters--the Hennepin County attorney's office eventually backtracked, saying it would let an outside agency decide Beau's fate. But in their comments revealing this reversal, the prosecutors made it plain they did not think there was a case to pursue. "I guess you can imagine me trying to convince a jury that someone is guilty when I'm not sure myself," said Paul Schneks, an assistant county attorney.
Soon after, officials also disclosed that there would be no disciplinary action taken against Nelson, and no changes in the way the police or prosecutors handled their cases. Nelson was resigning from the force, as it happened--but only to go to work as an investigator for the county attorney.
"I am comfortable with what Sgt. Nelson did," said Inspector Otto. "I saw nothing in the (internal affairs) investigation to remove him from homicide. I'm sad to see him leave."
"I think the judgments made were good calls, totally acceptable," said Johnson, the county attorney. "We make a lot of mistakes, but I don't think this was one. If Pat Kerr didn't prosecute, I would have been disappointed."
These comments and events troubled the jurors almost as much as had Burns' prosecution. "The county attorney and police cannot admit to mistakes because that means they're liable in lawsuits," said Winden. "I think that would have some strong effect on your character and how you deal with honesty and truth."
There was, however, another way of looking at the aftermath to the Burns' prosecution. In the end, it became clear that many of those more familiar with the system than the jurors simply did not think Burns' prosecution was all that extraordinary, or alarming. The process had functioned just as it should, they explained. Facts were gathered, organized and presented to the jurors, whose job it was to decide. That's exactly how the system was supposed to work. Maybe it wasn't pretty, but it worked. The jury failed to understand the "complexities" of the criminal justice system.
Prosector Johnson said as much, and Inspector Otto, and even the county attorney's investigator, Warner Bellm. So did the trial judge.
"I'd like to say I had all these lofty thoughts," Amundson said. "But to be honest, this was just another trial. I did not have great insight into this case. I was just trying to keep a level playing field. The system worked. It's not fair to say we should have known. That's why we have a trial. That's why we have a jury."