Superior man found guilty in Cook County murder

Jacob Colt Johnson has been convicted on two charges of second degree murder in the death of Ricky Balsimo in June of 2021.

Jacob Johnson shot and killed Balsimo in Saint Paul following a dispute while traveling in a vehicle. Following the shooting, Johnson transported his body to Superior.

He has claimed self-defense in the shooting. 

Johnson then enlisted the help of Robert Thomas West in concealing and dismembering Balsimo’s body.

They placed the pieces in several buckets and a tote. West transported it to Grand Portage and dumped it into Lake Superior.

Johnson’s sentencing is scheduled for December.

Johnson faces separate charges in Wisconsin for mutilating a corpse, and an unrelated charge of possession of a firearm. 

Two other defendants in the murder of Mr. Balsimo have already been convicted.

On February 8, 2023, a Cook County jury convicted Robert Thomas West of one count of being an accessory after the fact to murder and one count of interference with a dead body. Criminal charges against West are still pending in Wisconsin. Sentencing for West on his Minnesota conviction is scheduled for late August.

Another defendant, Tommi Hintz, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding an offender after the fact. Sentencing for Hintz is scheduled for this month too.  

Attorney General Ellison’s office accepted and prosecuted the case upon the request of Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken. County Attorney Hicken worked closely with Assistant Attorney General Daniel Vlieger in this successful prosecution. The case was tried in a St. Louis County court. 

“My thoughts are once again today with the victim’s family, who have once again had to relive their loved one’s horrific murder. I hope this conviction of the third defendant in Mr. Balsimo’s murder brings them that much more of a sense accountability and one step closer to healing,” Attorney General Ellison said. 

“I’m very proud of the attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office, the Cook County Attorney’s Office, investigators, and law enforcement who brought this case to a successful conviction. I’m also proud of our partnerships with county attorneys who are on the front lines of delivering justice to victims and communities. We stand at the ready to assist them and look forward to doing more with the new resources for criminal prosecution and appeals that the Legislature and Governor Walz have granted my office,” Attorney General Ellison added.  

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Laboratories, the Douglas County, Wisconsin District Attorney’s Office, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office all assisted in the investigation. Crossmon Consulting, a search-and-rescue operation, worked without charge to find Balsimo’s remains, along with St. Louis County Dive and Rescue.