BUFFALO, Minn. (KMSP) - Robert Nuttall is headed to prison for 20 years after admitting to the unintentional murder of Christopher Rossing. Despite the guilty plea, prosecutors were able to get 5 additional years added to Nuttall's sentence. But for taking a man's life, Rossing’s family says 20 years is not enough.
“There isn't a cornfield we can pass, pond, ditches, sewer, or a fire pit that doesn’t remind us of what happened to Christopher,” said Rossing’s sister, Deanna Villella. “Our family is pleased that he's in prison, but we feel it should have been an eye for an eye. You take a life you serve a life.”
In agony for 15 months since Rossing went missing, his family hardly feels closure, even after Nuttall’s sentencing. In a plea deal, Nuttall admitted to the unintentional murder of Rossing after a night of drinking last August.
Following weeks of searching, the only evidence prosecutors had to build the case on came from the fire pit at the Hutchinson, Minn. farm where Nuttall and his girlfriend Gwen Butcher lived.
“The fragments of teeth and bone that we found -- that body was burnt so bad -- we were not able to ascertain any DNA what so ever, period,” Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly said.
Kelly says the 20-year sentence handed down to Nuttall, plus 2 years for a separate assault charge, is likely more than prosecutors could have gotten through a trial.
“In the state of Minnesota, it's awful difficult to prove an intentional homicide without the body,” Kelly said.
Channeling their grief, the Rossings continue to help other families search for missing loved ones -- a legacy they promise will last a lifetime.
“We are going to find peace in helping others,” Villella said. “At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that makes any of us rest easy, is knowing we are impacting someone else’s life and helping them not go through what we had to go through. No family should have to wonder.”