Court upholds attacker’s sentence: Judge denies convict’s appeal from baseball bat attack case

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An assailant sentenced to 20 years in prison for striking another man in the head with a baseball bat in Austin has lost his appeal.

A Minnesota Court of Appeals judge this week denied Galuak Michael Rotgai’s appeal from the 2012 case in Mower County Court, in which Rotgai was convicted of attempted second-degree murder in Austin.



Rotgai’s appeals case was filed with the court in February 2013, in which Rotgai claimed there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him and further challenged the severity of his sentence, according to the opinion filed Monday in the appeals court.

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In Nov. 2012, a jury found Rotgai guilty of hitting a man in the back of the head with a baseball bat on April 8, 2012, at an apartment in north Austin along Highway 218. Evidence suggested Rotgai hit the victim’s head again, after he already fell down.

Rotgai’s victim, a 39-year-old Sudanese man, lay in St. Marys hospital for a long time, unresponsive. Later, documents and testimony in court revealed the victim would need medical attention for the rest of his life.

When a deputy arrived at the crime scene, the victim was on the floor, not breathing or blinking and surrounded by bodily fluids, according to the court complaint. One witness heard a loud argument and a “thud,” according to the complaint, and then saw Rotgai standing over the motionless victim.

According to the complaint, Rotgai and the victim may have been arguing over CDs or DVDs. According to the court complaint and the appeals opinion, Rotgai changed his account of events several times.

During the trial, Rotgai indicated he wasn’t well-represented by his public defender; however, he allowed the trial and appeals case to proceed without taking further steps to address that, the opinion stated.