Family tries to raise bond for man granted new trial

Mike Hansen
Lawyers with the Innocence Project of Minnesota are hopeful Mike Hansen can be released on bail while his case is retried.
Innocence Project

A Douglas County district court judge lowered bail Thursday for an Alexandria man convicted in 2006 of killing his infant daughter. But Michael Hansen remains in custody as his family raises the $15,000 dollars needed to secure his release.

The court recently granted Hansen a new trial on the murder charges.

Judge Ann Carrott lowered Hansen's bail from $250,000 to $150,000 with court-imposed conditions that include no contact with the mother of his children, no possession or use of alcohol or mood altering drugs, and random drug testing.

Hansen's mother Debra Meyer, said she was hopeful the judge would release Hansen on his own recognizance. But the Judge Carrott noted Hansen's previous criminal record and probation violations as reasons for imposing the $150,000 bail.

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Meyer is uncertain the family can raise the $15,000 bond to secure her son's release while he awaits a new trial.

Now that a new trial has been granted, it's difficult to wait for the outcome, she said.

"Anxious for it to be all done and for Michael to come home that's for sure. Just anxious."

Hansen was granted a new trial last month when attorneys working with The Innocence Project challenged a medical examiner's autopsy report. It concluded a skull fracture was the cause of death of three-month-old Avryonna Hansen.

Several medical experts testified the skull injury did not cause the infant's death. An expert also testified a fall from a shopping cart six days before her death could have caused the child's skull fracture.

Innocence Project attorney Bridget Sabo says the legal reform non-profit group reviews many cases every year but accepts very few.

"It's extremely difficult to get back into court on a post-conviction motion. Every legal bias is against you, the client has been convicted, an appeal has been denied," Sabo said. "Courts are not at all quick to grant new trials. There needs to be significant new evidence in some form."

Last month, Judge Peter Irvine granted Michael Hansen a new trial. The judge determined there is new evidence and a forensic pathologists testimony in the original trial was false or incorrect.

Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson declined to be interviewed, saying he doesn't think it's appropriate to talk about a case before trial.

Larson was not the prosecuting county attorney when Hansen was convicted in 2006. In a written statement issued last week, Larson called the Hansen case "tragic with a problematic record."

But Larson also said that he disagrees with the defense's interpretation of the evidence. Information about the case is still being gathered in preparation for the new trial, he said.

The trial is tentatively scheduled to begin October 3. Attorneys expect it to last about three weeks.