Victim identified; arrest made in Tower house fire death; defendant arraigned
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017 — Breitung Police Department Chief Jesse Anderson has identified the victim of Wednesday’s house fire as Bentley Joe Lewis Koski, age 11 months. The infant was found unconscious and not breathing following a house fire at 813 North Third Street, Tower on Wednesday, August 2. Bentley Koski was the son of Krista Swanson of Tower.
The St. Louis County Sheriff’s office, in a press release updated Thursday, August 3, has announced the arrest of Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski, age 24. It is expected that Bonacci-Koski will be charged with Second Degree Manslaughter, Child Neglect, Auto Theft, Possession of a Controled Substance and Possession of Narcotic Paraphernailia, all Felony charges. He is currently in custody at the St. Louis County Jail in Virginia, Minn., pending formal charges. In addition to the pending charges, Bonacci-Koski is also being held on a Felony Probation Violation, Felony Harrassment–violation of a restraining order and Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor Probation Violations. There has been no bail set.
He was arrested on warrants for those charges by the Hibbing Police Department, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and the Breitung Police Department.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, although it is not believed to be Arson, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office official press release.
The Breitung Police Department, Chief Jesse Anderson, is conducting the investigation with the assistance of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Fire Marshall’s Office.
Update, Monday, AUGUST 7, 2017 — Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski was arraigned today on two counts of manslaughter, theft of a motor vehicle and fifth degree possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). According to documents the prosecutor filed with the 6th District Court, Virginia, Minnesota, Bonacci-Koski stated that he stole a jeep on Tower’s Main street. He subsequently put the vehicle into a ditch near Pike Township. The sheriff’s department, and other agencies, conducted a man-hunt in the area and apprehended Bonacci-Koski as he walked out of the woods onto Highway 169.
The court set bail in the amount of $200,000. County Attorney Mark Rubin filed a “Blakely Notice” with the court to preserve the state’s right to seek a greater than normal sentence under state sentencing guidelines. The “Blakely Notice” was enacted because of the “particular vulnerability of an 11-month-old child,” Rubin said. The two counts of second degree manslaughter carry a maximum 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. Bonacci-Koski’s next appearance in the Virginia courthouse will be on August 21, at 9:30 a.m. It is expected that his outstanding felony warrants for his arrest will be heard in Hibbing at a later date.