Robbie Anderson cold case: Insufficient evidence again for charges in 2009 death

There is still insufficient evidence to file any charges related to the death of 19-year-old Robbie Anderson in 2009. The decision follows independent reviews by five senior attorneys with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Anderson died mysteriously during a night of underage drinking in the basement of a friend’s house in Maple Grove in the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 2009. 

"Five senior attorneys within the HCAO’s Adult Prosecution Division (which handles violent crimes including murder and manslaughter) each independently examined the case," the office said in a statement. "They reviewed the evidence and conclusions of the medical professionals hired by the family about the cause of death. All five senior attorneys found insufficient evidence and recommended declining to charge the two men who were with Mr. Anderson that night."

"We have deep compassion for Mr. Anderson’s family and the tragic loss of his life. We have devoted significant resources to this case to assess whether any charges are warranted. The independent conclusions of five of the office’s most experienced attorneys were that there is insufficient evidence to support any charges in this case."

A ‘sudden unexplained death’

In 2011, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office declined to file second-degree manslaughter charges, primarily because the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said both the cause and manner of death were a "sudden unexplained death."

In December 2019, the FOX 9 Investigators explored new leads in his death uncovered by cold case investigator Sheila Potocnik. Police subsequently reopened the case. 

A second autopsy

Anderson’s family believes the case has only become stronger in the last year after Anderson’s body was exhumed in November and a second autopsy was performed. 

Two independent medical examiners said in May 2023 the manner of death was a homicide caused by "blunt force trauma to the head and neck." 

For their new analysis, the two independent forensic pathologists – Dr. Alecia Wilson and Dr. Amanda Youmans -- conducted additional testing on Anderson’s remains, as well as a posterior neck dissection and spinal cord exam, that were not done during the original autopsy.

The original autopsy in 2009 was conducted by Dr. Dennis Fircau, a training fellow now with the University of Iowa, under the supervision of assistant Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Owen Middleton. 

Dr. Middleton was present for the second autopsy conducted in November by Drs. Wilson and Youmans.

Maple Grove police submit cold case for charges

Maple Grove police submitted the case on Aug. 11, 2023 to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for possible charges. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office promised to review the cold case "again from scratch with multiple senior attorneys" after the case was resubmitted.

A spokesperson for Maple Grove police said in a statement the department "has shared the results of the second autopsy with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and requested the case be reviewed for charging consideration related to manslaughter."

Anderson’s mother, Sandra Cikotte Anderson, told the FOX 9 Investigators that Maple Grove detectives have made it clear to her over the years they believe the case should be charged as murder, "but they received pushback from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office."

"So, I’m a bit shocked that 13 years later, with more evidence, including two medical experts agreeing that this case is homicide, that it was referred to Hennepin County as manslaughter," she said.

A basement party

Anderson died around in the early morning hours of December 4, 2009, after partying and doing shots of vodka with two friends he knew since middle school, Paul Leclerc and Matt Stouten.

The three were in the basement of Leclerc’s home, while his parents were sleeping upstairs when his two friends said Anderson suddenly stopped breathing.

A bizarre and confusing 911 call was made at 3:30 a.m. when Leclerc told the dispatcher Anderson "fell out of his chair and stopped breathing."

Leclerc then told the dispatcher he would carry Anderson’s body to the street corner to meet the ambulance, so they wouldn’t wake up his parents upstairs.  The dispatcher told them to remain at the house.

The first officer on the scene noticed Anderson was blue in the face, was not breathing, and had no pulse.

The officer also noted Anderson had "two black eyes," and "bruising down the side of his nose," as well as "blood on his upper lip and in his nostrils."

Anderson’s pants were unbuttoned, unzipped, and six inches below his waist, according to police reports.

‘I was just trying to wake him up’

Police arrested Leclerc that night, and while alone in the squad car, after trying to kick out the squad car doors, Leclerc made a startling statement caught on video. 

"Oh my God, I killed Rob," Leclerc screamed. 

In subsequent interviews with Maple Grove detectives, Leclerc and Scouton, would offer various, and sometimes conflicting, accounts of what happened. Both would admit to "messing" with Anderson after he passed out, including pestering him and piling items on top of him.

Scouton told police Leclerc, who weighed more than 300 lbs., was punching and slapping Anderson to wake him up. At one point, they carried him into the laundry room thinking he needed to vomit. Scouton said Leclerc smacked him a couple more times in the head.

Crime scene photos show Anderson’s blood on the bed and in the sink and floor of the laundry room. Asked by a detective during an interrogation why there is blood on the bedsheets, Leclerc said, "I was just trying to wake him up." 

The detective asked, "Punching him like pretty hard?"

"I was just trying to wake him up," Leclerc responded.

Still seeking justice

Statement from Sandra Cikotte Anderson

To be absolutely clear, Matthew Scouton and Paul Leclerc have not been exonerated. They have not been declared innocent of killing my son; rather, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office is saying they require additional evidence before proceeding. Anytime in the future, this case can be charged. There is no statute of limitations on murder or manslaughter. Hennepin County hoped all their mistakes would stay buried, literally and figuratively.  They never thought myself along with Sheila Potocnik would unearth the truth and be granted an exhumation and second autopsy, but they thought wrong. It's been confirmed by two forensic pathologists that Robbie died of a homicide. He was beaten, bloodied and bruised, by the hands of Paul Leclerc and Matthew Scouton. In their own words, their own admissions to police. We do not believe Hennepin County reviewed Rob's case fairly or proactively.  We believe that have been seeking a way to get out of the mess they created. All smoke and mirrors. 

I respectfully ask that another county, such as Ramsey, review Rob's case in order to ensure that it is treated impartially.

Statement from Sheila Potocnik

We are profoundly disappointed that, for the second time, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) has declined to bring criminal charges in the killing of Rob Anderson. 

We are, however, not surprised. HCAO had conflicts of interest in this case that would have forced them to acknowledge past mistakes by their office and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. 

Following the exhumation of Rob's body last year, two independent autopsies determined that his death was a result of homicide due to blunt force trauma. Dr. Allecia Wilson, who served as an expert witness for the prosecution in the George Floyd case, conducted one of those autopsies. I find it intriguing that Dr. Wilson's opinion is regarded as if it were gold in one of the most highly publicized cases to date, yet it is essentially undermining her by not respecting her opinion in Rob's. It appears to be quite hypocritical.

There is significant and compelling evidence in this case, including the actual confession of one of the suspects captured on a police squad video the night Rob was killed.

To our dismay, the HCAO appears to be willfully ignorant of the evidence presented, not once but twice, by Maple Grove Police. 

Assistant Hennepin County Medical Examiner Owen Middleton oversaw the initial autopsy in 2009 that was conducted by a novice "fellow." It was concluded that Rob's cause of death was "Sudden Unexplained Death," and the manner was "Could Not Determine."

If prosecutors had filed criminal charges, they would have been forced at trial to impeach the conduct and testimony of a medical examiner who they work closely with every day. There is no way for HCAO to avoid such a glaring conflict. If HCME changed their cause and manner of death, they would have to admit their mistakes. Imagine the potential challenges this would pose for their office. How many others have been affected? 

Rob’s case does not occur in a vacuum. Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty has made it clear her priorities are to coddle the accused and to alter the criminal justice system to align with her personal progressive political beliefs. That is not justice. It is a crusade.

I requested and strongly believed that this case needed to be reviewed by a county other than Hennepin from the very outset of my involvement in this case.

Once again, we call on the Minnesota Attorney General to have Rob Anderson’s case reviewed by impartial prosecutors who do not have a conflict of interest.