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A Man Whose Body Was Found in Lake Superior is Being Tried for Killing and Mutilating Him

A Man Whose Body Was Found in Lake Superior is Being Tried for Killing and Mutilating Him

Meagan Bieroth testified that she was in the front passenger seat of Jacob Johnson’s Audi SUV when Johnson shot his boyhood buddy Ricky Balsimo Jr. in the backseat. The shot was so loud that it caused Meagan’s ears to ring.

According to Bieroth, she stopped the car on a street in the Twin Cities, stepped out, and started running with a passenger. In the weeks after Bieroth’s return to Louisiana after Johnson’s arrest, she finally told her family and friends what had transpired in the wee hours of June 20, 2021.

On Monday, Johnson’s trial began in St. Louis County Court, where he faces two counts of second-degree murder as felonies. Nearly a month after Balsimo’s murder, his body was found in Grand Portage Bay. His remains had been dismembered and mixed with concrete before being tossed in Lake Superior.

Like at the trials of the other defendants, Balsimo’s parents and some of his siblings were present in the courtroom. Robert West was found guilty of interfering with a dead corpse and acting as an accessory after the fact, and Tommi Hintz entered a plea of guilty. Johnson says he was defending himself.

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Bieroth stated that while they were driving about that night, Balsimo made death threats to both him and Johnson. They have been together for 12 years and have a teen daughter together. Bieroth testified that Johnson perceived a threat to her life when Balsimo brandished a knife and claimed he was going to kill the one thing he had ever loved.

Bieroth and her daughter celebrated the latter’s twelfth birthday in Duluth, Minnesota, in June 2021. Bieroth, Johnson, and Balsimo traveled from Duluth to the Twin Cities the night before the party. The men were arguing in the car, as was typical for such lifelong friends who frequently argued with one another before making up. According to her testimony, she thought both males were high.

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Balsimo, she claimed, had brandished a knife; Johnson had fired without warning. His sister Raquel Turner testified that the Balsimo family quickly realized something was wrong. They engaged a private investigator in addition to their own investigation, which led them to the killer(s) of Balsimo and the site of his body.

Balsimo, who usually checks in, didn’t this time, which was surprising given that it was Father’s Day. His extended family in St. Paul is very close-knit. His last phone conversation was with his mom, Kim Balsimo. “He told my mom he was coming home and to leave the door open,” Turner testified.

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