Downwind killer gets 35 years

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As Marchello Cimmarusti was led from a courtroom to the Beltrami County Jail on Thursday, members of Rose Downwind's family shouted after him.

"I hope you die," a member of the crowd yelled, before Cimmarusti returned to the jail.

Cimmarusti, who killed Downwind in October 2015 and pleaded guilty April 18 to second-degree intentional murder, was sentenced to 35 years in prison during the tense and tearful hearing. Six of Downwind's family members gave victim impact statements, describing the hole Downwind's death has left in their lives.

"It's a mother's nightmare, a mother's horror," said Darla Banks, Downwind's mother. "For her to be buried in the woods and burned, this is horrible. Everything about it is horrible."

Cimmarusti, 41, killed the 31-year-old mother of five, of Redby, at a south Bemidji home on Oct. 20, 2015 during an argument over utility money. He and two other men — Christopher Davis and Brandon Rossbach — then transported her body to an area northwest of Bemidji, where they burned and buried her. All three men kept Downwind's death and her body's whereabouts a secret until Cimmarusti turned himself in on Dec. 7, 2015.

Davis pleaded guilty to aiding an offender and was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison in August. Rossbach pleaded not guilty to the same crime, but was found guilty by a jury in October and received a sentence of 16 years and nine months.

Cimmarusti was given a longer sentence than Minnesota guidelines call for due to the mutilation of Downwind's body and the emotional distress he caused her family.

Downwind's grandfather Dennis Banks, a founder of the American Indian Movement, also spoke before Cimmarusti was sentenced. Banks said that had he been younger, he would have considered taking the law into his own hands.

"That monster who still breathes air and hears news of his children... his life goes on," Banks said of Cimmarusti. "But Rose is gone."

Banks added that he was saddened that Cimmarusti was able to make a plea deal. He asked Judge John Melbye to hand down the most severe punishment allowed.

Downwind's sister Kristy White spoke to Melbye as well, saying she tried to keep Downwind away from Cimmarusti.

"I did everything in my power for Rose," White said. "I was there for my sister every step of the way."

Cimmarusti tearfully apologized to Downwind's family before the hearing came to a close. He said he tried his best to keep the family together, but said that in the end he was to blame.

"There's no greater consequence than the grief and shame," he said. "I pray that one day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."

Those gathered in the courtroom responded with a smattering of "no ways."

Despite the harsher sentence, Darla Banks said she was not satisfied.

"It's not over, it's just beginning," Banks said. "Me knowing that Marchello's biggest fear was the cops and to go to jail and that now he's going to be sitting in jail, I'm not sure if that's enough. It's not enough."