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Judge dismisses man's appeal of conviction in VCSU student's death

FARGO (AP) -- A federal judge has thrown out an appeal by a former jailer convicted of killing a Valley City State University student four years ago.

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Moe Gibbs
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FARGO (AP) -- A federal judge has thrown out an appeal by a former jailer convicted of killing a Valley City State University student four years ago.

Moe Gibbs was convicted of strangling Mindy Morgenstern, 22, of New Salem, in her off-campus apartment. Authorities said she was strangled with a cloth belt and her throat was slit.

Gibbs later was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after two trials, the first of which ended in a jury deadlock.

The state Supreme Court in 2009 rejected an appeal by Gibbs. He then filed a petition in federal court claiming judicial misconduct, an improper police investigation and ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal.

In a ruling dated Monday, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson dismissed the case after a magistrate judge ruled that Gibbs failed to file his motion within one year of his last appeal.

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"Based upon the entire record before the court, dismissal of the motion is not debatable, reasonably subject to a different outcome on appeal, or otherwise deserving of further proceedings," Erickson wrote.

After his murder conviction, Gibbs pleaded guilty to a 2004 rape in Fargo, and to charges that he assaulted five female inmates at the Barnes County jail where he worked as a jailer at the time he was arrested for Morgenstern's murder. Gibbs was ordered to serve an additional 15 years on the seven felony charges.

Gibbs' case prompted the North Dakota Legislature to toughen criminal background check requirements for corrections officers. He changed his name in 2005, which helped shield the fact that he had served 5 1/2 years in prison for attempted murder when he was in the Navy.

Related Topics: CRIME
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