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Man serving life sentence for 1998 murder awaits next steps after call for exoneration

Courtroom 880 sits empty inside the Ramsey County Courthouse.
Courtroom 880 sits empty inside the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul on April 6, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

In a couple of weeks, Brian K. Pippitt will find out whether he’ll be released from prison. He is currently serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of a McGregor shopkeeper. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office says he was wrongly convicted.

Pippit is the first person recommended for full exoneration by the Conviction Review Unit formed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in 2020. The decision is now in the hands of the Aiken County court.

”There’s a huge amount of physical evidence that exonerates him,” said attorney Jim Cousins, who represents Pippit and works with Centurion Ministries, one of several organizations that reviewed the case. “All of us have reached the same conclusion. It's really the only conclusion I think you can reach if you review this evidence in a detailed way.”

Cousins said the court has until June 26 to respond to his client’s petition for post-conviction relief.

In the meantime, Pippitt waits.

”Brian is a very Stoic individual. He’s got a very low-key, mild-mannered personality,” Cousins said. “He’s obviously ecstatic that someone has now determined that he’s innocent, but he’s stressed and tense because he’s still in prison, and he hasn’t been released yet.”

Cousins spoke with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer. Click play on the audio player above to hear the entire conversation.