Bonacci-Koski Guilty of Manslaughter

Updated: September 13, 2018 09:13 PM

Jesse Bonacci-Koski, the Hibbing man who was on trial for his infant nephew's death in a house fire, has been found guilty on all counts after a three-day trial.

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They include two felony-level counts of manslaughter. One felony-level count theft of a motor vehicle and a gross misdemeanor fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.

The jury deliberated for almost two hours before handing over the verdict to Judge Gary Pagliacceti, who read the verdict in court.

Bonacci-Koski left 11-month-old Bentley Koski at home on August 2nd, 2017. He told law enforcement conflicting statements that he went to find Wi-Fi and also that he went to buy drugs. 

He returned to the house, saw it was on fire and left again. Then, he stole a car and was later arrested in the Pike Township area.

In the trial's last witness testimony Thursday morning, St. Louis County Sheriff Sgt. Steve Borchers said Bonnachi-Koski exhibited several symptoms of a person on a controlled substance that day, including "having a hard time standing still, talking fast and being bug-eyed."

Borcher's said he spoke with him after he fled the scene of the fire and stole a car.

Borchers said Bonnachi-Koski told him "he was high and had been awake for 6 days straight." He also told Borchers he knew he was guilty of neglecting Bentley and wanted him to tell Bentley's parents that he was sorry he left him home alone. 

That statement was not formally recorded because there was no means to at the time, according to Borchers. A formal recorded statement was taken the next day.

During the child's mother's testimony on Wednesday, she said Bentley would have been one on August 30 and that he was always smiling. She also said Jesse watched Bentley often and that she trusted him.

In closing arguments, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jessica Fralich repeated the question to jurors, "What if he didn't leave at all?" when talking about Bonnachi-Koski's actions that day. She said Bentley's death was "100 percent preventable and that Jesse's actions were not mistakes, but intentional decisions that set into motion a chain of events leading to Bentley's death."

Public Defender J.D. Schmid started his argument saying "Bentley's death was a tragedy, not a crime."  He claimed the state did not prove that Bonnachi-Koski's actions were a substantial factor in Bentley's death, and said, "We will never know if he could have saved Bentley from the fire had he been home."

Both attorney's agreed that this was a sad case and that Bentley's death was with no doubt tragic.

Bonnaci-Koski declined to testify in the trial.

Schmid declined to comment on the verdict. State attorneys said they could not comment until after sentencing.

The fire's cause has not been determined. The Minnesota State Fire Marshall Office investigation revealed there was no evidence that Bonacci-Koski started the fire or contributed to the cause.

Sentencing is set for October 24. 

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