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Deer River man charged in death of girlfriend

By Justin Glawe / Bemidji Pioneer 

BEMIDJI -- A Deer River man is being held without bail after being charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

Eugene Nason, 50, shared a home at 508 5th Street South with 43-year-old Sonya Ann Smith. While the criminal complaint released Tuesday evening by the Itasca County Sheriff's Office did not name Smith as the victim, Sheriff Vic Williams confirmed her identity to the Grand Rapids Herald-Review on Friday.

The complaint did, however, provide details of the scene of the crime, where police were called just before 9 a.m. July 24. Blood was found throughout the home and on Smith's clothes, and shattered glass littered the residence. Smith's face was bruised when Nason's sister, who was not identified by name in the complaint, discovered the woman's body.

A medical examiner found that Smith died of multiple traumatic injuries, including a ruptured liver and spleen, broken ribs and cerebral hemorrhaging.

At least two neighbors heard screams coming from the home about 4 a.m., and "records indicate the neighbor called the sheriff's office at 4:24 a.m."

Nason has a criminal history dating back to 1988 that includes multiple felony assault and drug charges. His most serious crime, according to court documents, was a third-degree assault charge for which he was convicted in 1995. He is being held at the Itasca County Jail. His next court appearance is set for Sept. 9.

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