Minnesota Supreme Court orders new trial for Chisholm man convicted in 1986 murder

Nancy Daugherty was found strangled in her Chisholm home in 1986. Decades after the crime, Michael Allen Carbo Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 and sentenced to life in prison for her murder. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the case will be reopened and head back to trial.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ordered a new case for Michael Allan Carbo, Jr., now 56, finding that court errors during his trial were “not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Ms. Daugherty’s murder prompted one of the most exhaustive investigations in St. Louis County. The case went cold for more than 30 years until a new DNA analysis in 2020 helped investigators identify Carbo as a suspect. Carbo was 17 at the time of Daugherty’s death. He was indicted in 2022, convicted and sentenced to life in prison with a chance for parole after 17 years.

RELATED STORY: Chisholm man found guilty 30 years after Nancy Daugherty’s murder

During his trial, Carbo’s attorney tried to admit evidence that another man had been involved with Daugherty to show he could’ve committed the crime and tried to suppress evidence of Carbo’s DNA analysis, which was generated with a sample from items in Carbo’s garbage bin. However, the Judge Robert C. Friday denied those motions., even though the man Carbo’s attorney wanted to show as an alternative perpetrator was called by the state and allowed to testify.

“The question presented here is not whether the damning forensic evidence presented by the State was sufficient to convict Carbo of Daugherty’s murder,” the Minnesota Supreme Court majority opinion states, adding that the court was tasked with deciding if the district court “abused its discretion.”

Ultimately, the justices decided that Carbo’s attorney should’ve been allowed to introduce that evidence, and “the error was not harmless,” requiring Carbo’s conviction to be reversed and sent back to the district court.

The St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, in response to a question from Hubbard sister-station KSTP said, “We are disappointed in the court’s decision to reverse Mr. Carbo’s conviction. We remain committed to prosecuting Mr. Carbo for the murder of Ms. Daugherty based on the facts establishing his guilt as outlined in the complaint. We cannot comment further on a pending case. We ask that the requests for privacy of Ms. Daugherty’s family be respected.”