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St. Paul man says he helped burn, bury body of Downwind

 A St. Paul man charged with aiding a Bemidji man in connection with the murder of Rose Downwind pleaded guilty to the charge Tuesday.

Christopher John Davis, 28, told the court that he helped Marchello Cimmarusti, Downwind’s former boyfriend, transport her body to a location west of Bemidji, dig a hole, burn and bury the body, and later send a text message from Downwind’s phone to her mother to make it appear Downwind was alive and in St. Paul.

Cimmarusti, 40, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty in April to one charge of second-degree intentional murder and admitted that he killed Downwind, a 31-year-old Bemidji mother of five in October. Cimmarusti also said that Davis, as well as Brandon Rossbach, 31, of Bemidji, helped him burn and bury Downwind’s body.

After pleading guilty Tuesday in Beltrami County District Court, Davis described his actions to the court. He said that on the afternoon of Oct. 20, Cimmarusti sent him a Facebook message saying that he had accidentally killed Downwind and asked Davis to come to Bemidji to help him.

Davis said that he initially did not believe that Cimmarusti had actually killed Downwind, because Cimmarusti liked to joke with him, and because Davis had recently taken hallucinogens. Later that afternoon Davis got a ride with a friend to Bemidji and went to Cimmarusti’s house, where he saw Downwind’s body under a blanket.

Davis then left Cimmarusti’s house and went to Walmart where he bought plastic foam plates and cups. When he returned, he said he helped Cimmarusti move Downwind’s body to Cimmarusti’s car, where they drove her to the site at which he said they burned and buried her body.

“Marchello and I dug a hole and placed Rose in there with the blanket and the gas and the Styrofoam,” Davis said.

Davis said he and Cimmarusti returned to Cimmarusti’s house, where he spent the night. The next morning he returned to St. Paul with a phone he said he knew was Downwind’s, where he sent the text message to her mother, as well as one to Cimmarusti.

Davis was later arrested in Waller County, Texas.

Davis also admitted to aggravating factors surrounding his role in the concealment of Downwind’s body, specifically particular cruelty and the participation of three or more people. The aggravating factors could add 20 months to his sentence.

During his statements, Davis did not mention Rossbach’s name.

Prosecutors recommended that Davis be sentenced to about 10 years in prison, 20 months longer than the most severe guideline sentence. He will be sentenced Aug. 30.

Rossbach has maintained his innocence since his arrest and will appear in court for a pretrial hearing Sept. 27.