MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An admission of guilt in the disappearance and death of a Wright County man will send Robert Nuttall to prison for 20 years.
Nuttall pleaded guilty Friday to felony unintentional murder of Rossing, who disappeared in August of 2014 near Howard Lake.
Nuttall and his girlfriend, Gwen Butcher, were the last people seen with Rossing after a night of drinking.
The guilty plea entered into Wright County District Court does not fully explain what happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2014. Most importantly, how Rossing died and what happened to his remains.
Nuttall only admits that the two friends got into a roadside fight along highway 12, west of Howard Lake as the two were walking home.
“Mr. Nuttall admitted that he assaulted Christopher Rossing, he didn’t intend to kill him, but he admits that as a result of his assault, that Christopher Rossing died,” Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly said.
Nuttall was about to stand trial Monday for the second-degree intentional murder of Rossing. Bone fragments and teeth were found in a fire pit and corn field in rural Hutchinson, near the farm where Nuttall lived with Butcher. She is also charged and pending trial for legal obstruction.
Under the guilty plea, Nuttall will not have to explain what happened to Rossing’s body, or the details leading up to his death. However, the fact he concealed Rossing’s remains will result in an additional 42 months of prison time.
“He admitted that he in fact did conceal that body, which would cause the family additional anguish and pain,” Kelly said.
Family and friends spent countless hours searching for Rossing in the months after his disappearance. They were also present outside the Wright County Courthouse, pleading for justice at subsequent proceedings.
They chose not to speak to reporters on Friday, unhappy with the plea deal.
Kelly says he understands their frustration and agrees this is not the resolution of the case he had wanted.
“They have every right to be upset,” Kelly said. “Yes, we got a plea, we got some certainty. We’re going to get some incarceration, but it’s not something that we’re happy about.”
County Attorney Kelly is frustrated the whole story won’t be told, but admits the evidence was weak and there was no guarantee prosecution could succeed with a guilty verdict.
Nuttall will be sentenced on Oct. 30.