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Prosecutor shakeup, external search highlight week of "question raising" moves in Londregan case

Major personnel changes coming for team prosecuting Ryan Londregan
Major personnel changes coming for team prosecuting Ryan Londregan 02:26

MINNEAPOLIS — The murder trial of a Minnesota State Trooper is continuing to draw controversy, attention and calls from elected officials this week.

Hennepin County's prosecution of Ryan Londregan for the killing of 33-year-old Ricky Cobb II during the summer of 2023 has once again taken a twist.

Multiple sources confirm to WCCO News that the county's lead prosecutor on the case, Joshua Larson, has stepped away from the role.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office has chosen not to confirm or deny on its own – but said in a statement it was "assembling a new prosecution team" to handle what is an "extraordinarily resource intensive case."

The HCAO is the largest public law office in Minnesota – with over 200 attorneys on staff. This week, County Attorney Mary Moriarty requested authority from the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to bring in outside legal counsel.

The move drew a response from Gov. Tim Walz, who has maintained he has been watching case developments closely and hasn't "shut the door" on reassigning it away from the county attorney's office. 

"We can't speak to the County Attorney's reasons for seeking outside counsel, but it raises questions about the approach she has taken in this case," Walz said in a written statement.

Walz faces pressure from the largest police association in Minnesota to hand over the case to the attorney general. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association sent a letter to him in March accusing Moriarty of ignoring a police use-of-force expert's legal opinion on the case. Moriarty fired back by saying the expert did not reach any legal conclusion.

During a meeting Tuesday, several Commissioners requested a copy of the county's previously approved outside counsel policy – which the board passed "decades ago".

Seeking outside counsel is rare in criminal cases, sources tell WCCO News.

While the HCAO would not provide a copy of its existing policy, Ramsey County's outside counsel policy says its attorney's office would seek outside counsel "If the matter requires highly specialized expertise, the office requires assistance because of the matter's complexity and time demands, or to avoid conflict of interest."

Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, says he doesn't see how any of those qualifiers would apply to the Londregan case.

"It would seem very unusual that a county attorney's office that has over 200 attorneys, half of which are prosecutors…They have most of the felony cases in Minnesota. They do all sorts of cases: murders, child abductions, complex rape cases, things with DNA, hair follicle samples, fingerprints, all of these things. That's what they do. To not have a team to prosecute a case where you have to go outside the office — I simply don't understand that," Tamburino said.

"It's your tax dollars. When you hire outside counsel like this, it's going to be millions of dollars," Tamburino said.

Court will be back in session Monday. Londregan's attorney's have already filed motions to dismiss charges. 

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