A North Dakota man arrested in September on suspicion of killing his brother has had his charges dismissed after prosecutors determined it was unlikely he “committed the offense of homicide as charged.”
John Nathan Ersness was initially arrested Sept. 27 after his brother, Corwin Ersness, was found dead at Corwin's home on Fort Peck Lake, roughly two miles south of the town of Fort Peck.
Prior to John's arrest, a deputy was responding to a call from Corwin, who was concerned that his brother was in the area and wanted law enforcement to respond, according to Valley County Sheriff Vernon Buerkle. On the way to the house, the deputy encountered John, stopped and identified him, but had to release him because there was no probable cause to hold him, Buerkle said previously.
The deputy then went inside the home and found Corwin’s body at his house, and the Montana Highway Patrol later arrested John Ersness, Buerkle said.
John Ersness was initially charged with deliberate homicide in Valley County Justice Court.
But after searching John’s vehicle and conducting a partial autopsy, Buerkle said Wednesday the evidence indicated otherwise. He declined to speculate on Corwin’s cause of death, noting that a completed autopsy is still pending before the state medical examiner.
“There were rumors going around that Corky (Corwin) was shot,” Buerkle said. “I have no idea where those rumors came from, but I can tell you he was not shot.”
He did not rule out the possibility of Corwin’s dying from natural causes, but added, “We know there was an altercation shortly before Corky died … There was evidence of an altercation.”
At County Attorney Dylan Jensen’s request, Valley County Justice of the Peace Christina Hillman ordered the charges against Ersness dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could still be re-filed in the future.