- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) - An attorney for a Bemidji man accused of helping burn and bury a woman’s body has asked a judge to move his trial to the Twin Cities, citing local sympathy for the victim.

The Bemidji Pioneer reports (http://bit.ly/29mXIXb ) that Brandon Rossbach’s attorney, Kassius Benson, filed a change-of-venue request on Friday. Benson argued in the request that extensive media coverage of Rose Downwind’s disappearance and death as well as one of Rossbach’s alleged accomplice’s guilty plea have “engraved a perception of guilt into the minds of those in Beltrami County.”

Benson also noted that television celebrity Duane Chapman, known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, offered a reward for information leading to Downwind’s whereabouts, which created even more prejudice toward Rossbach.

“The Beltrami County Community has taken an active role in grieving with Ms. Downwind’s family. Upon hearing of her disappearance, many flocked to a vigil for Ms. Downwind. Ms. Downwind’s family has public grieved, on television, asking the community for sympathy and assistance,” Benson wrote.

He asked that Rossbach’s trial move to Hennepin or Ramsey County or another county where jurors won’t be biased.

Downwind was the granddaughter of American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks. She disappeared in October 2015. Her burned body was found in a shallow grave in a forest northwest of Bemidji in December.

Her ex-boyfriend, Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April in connection with Downwind’s death. He told police he accidentally killed her when she fell down the stairs during an argument, although an autopsy indicated she had been strangled.

Rossbach and Christopher Davis are both charged with aiding an offender. According to Cimmarusti, the two men helped him move Downwind’s body as well as burn and bury it.

Rossbach, who has maintained his innocence, is due to appear in court Tuesday for a plea hearing. Davis’ next court date is July 8.

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