How much time should someone spend in prison after trying to hire a hit man to kill a significant other? Five years, 10 or maybe 20? One Pine County man spent about 9 months behind bars, but now, he's out again.
Fox 9 News has met with Jesse Ericson before. He likes to talk, and that's part of what keeps getting him into trouble. After learning that he was getting out of prison, Tom Lyden made the 90-mile trek north to Pine County, where the sheriff and BCA spent considerable time building a kidnapping and conspiracy case against Ericson.
When it comes to the amount of time Ericson spent doing hard time, it looks pretty easy as he sits in his $500 per month transitional housing on the taxpayer's dime.
Ericson has holed up in at an old motel outside Sandstone, and he is starting his new life in a room not much bigger than the prison cell he left three days ago. It's enough space for his few belongings -- and his regrets.
"I love her. I love her to death, I always will," he said of his ex-girlfriend -- a woman he tried to hire a hit man to kill.
That man turned out to be an undercover cop, one Ericson met with twice to arrange the kidnapping and killing.
Fox 9 News first encountered Ericson a year and a half ago while out on bail, wearing an ankle bracelet. His rap sheet goes back 30 years, and includes charges of arson, theft, a couple of criminal sexual conduct charges and restraining orders from other ex-girlfriends.
Tammy is one such ex-girlfriend, and she said Ericson once ran off with her teenage daughter. She got a restraining order this week when she found out he was getting out of prison.
"I think it sucks," she said frankly. "I think it really sucks. We're still dealing with it."
It begs the question of how Ericson got only 19 months for attempted kidnapping, and served only 9 months in prison. The way Ericson explains it, prosecutors just wanted to get him off the street and didn't care how much time he did -- and that may explain why prosecutors have not returned calls from Fox 9 News.
"'You have to go to prison for a certain time just to satisfy the public,'" Ericson relayed.
Now, Ericson says he's a changed man. He insists that if he stays away from the beer, the Vicodin, and the Percocet, he'll be okay.
"I have a new girlfriend who wants to get married," he told Fox 9 News.
Ericson said his new girlfriend is a pen pal who wrote to him in prison, and she has a past too. According to Ericson, she killed an abusive husband in self-defense, and he believes he may have finally found true love.
"That's why we understand each other," he said.
Ericson will stay at that hotel for a couple of months at taxpayer expense. He will be on probation until October of next year, and after that, he plans to leave the state. Wherever he goes, however, he will need to register as a predatory offender.