Jacob Johnson sentenced to 40 years for murder of Ricky Balsimo  

A Cook County court late yesterday sentenced Jacob Johnson to 40 years in prison for his role in the June 20, 2021 murder of Ricky Balsimo. Johnson was convicted on August2, 2023 of two charges of 2nd degree murder in connection with Mr. Balsimo’s death. The presumptive sentence in this case for intentional 2nd-degree murder under the Minnesota sentencing guidelines was 366 months, but the State asked for the statutory maximum of 480 months based on aggravating factors that included Johnson’s dismembering and concealing Mr. Balsimo’s body, and the Court agreed. 

“I am pleased to see the Court hold Jacob Johnson fully accountable for the severity and cruelty of the crime he committed. My thoughts continue to be with Mr. Balsimo’s family and loved ones. Not even the maximum penalty under law can bring Ricky Balsimo back to them, but I hope this sentence brings them some measure of accountability,” Attorney General Ellison said. 

Jacob Johnson shot and killed Mr. Balsimo in Saint Paul following a dispute while traveling in a vehicle. Following the shooting, Johnson transported Mr. Balsimo’s body to Superior, Wisconsin, where he enlisted the help of Robert Thomas West in concealing and dismembering Mr. Balsimo’s body. After Mr. Balsimo’s body was dismembered and placed in several buckets and a tote, West transported it to Grand Portage and dumped it into Lake Superior.  

Two other defendants in the murder of Mr. Balsimo have already been convicted and sentenced. 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. Another defendant, Tommi Hintz, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding an offender after the fact. West was sentenced to 15 years (180 months) and Hintz was sentenced to five years’ probation on August 29, 2023.   

Attorney General Ellison’s office accepted and prosecuted the case upon the request of Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 8.01, which provides, “Upon request of the county attorney, the attorney general shall appear in court in such criminal cases as the attorney general deems proper.” County Attorney Hicken worked closely with Assistant Attorney General Daniel Vlieger in this successful prosecution.