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Appellate court affirms Nobles County ruling

The central question in the case was whether or not the defendant understood that he was violating the predatory offender registration requirement.

In the courts

ST. PAUL — After hearing a 2017 Nobles County case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals filed an opinion last week that affirmed the district court's judgment.

Michael Walker, 47, of Worthington, was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2002 when he lived in Westbrook. As a result, he is subject to lifetime predatory offender registration. He must update his current information several times per year as required by statute, and also is required to update his registration each time he moves house or changes employment.

Walker moved to Worthington in 2016 and, before he left, his former parole officer informed him that he would need to contact the Worthington Police Department to update his predatory offender registration. However, he instead registered with the Murray County Sheriff's Department, which does not have jurisdiction over Worthington.

In 2017, it was discovered that Walker had switched jobs three times that year and had not updated his registration for any of them. He was charged with three felony counts of knowingly violating his predatory offender registration requirement. A Nobles County judge found him guilty on all three counts at the conclusion of a 2019 trial.

Walker contested his convictions in the appellate court, claiming that he had not been aware that it wasn't acceptable for him to register in Murray County.

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The court pointed to a statement Walker made to police shortly after his 2017 arrest. Walker reportedly admitted at that time that he knew he was supposed to register his employment changes in Nobles County, but said it was a "pain in the rear" to do so and that he was concerned that information would get out into the community that he was a predatory offender.

"Furthermore," the Court of Appeals decision added, "even if registering with the Murray County employee was complying with the requirements of the statute, the evidence when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict demonstrates that Walker had not registered any of his three employment changes in 2017, even in Murray County."

The court ruled that Walker was fully aware of the requirements for predatory offender registration but simply chosen not to comply. They affirmed the convictions and sentence by the district court.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
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