Attorney General’s Office secures conviction in Cottonwood County murder case

Jury finds Ralph Apmann guilty of second-degree unintentional murder in August 2021 death of Juan Morales Rivera in Windom

AG’s office wins case after referral by and in partnership with Cottonwood County Attorney

February 14, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that a Cottonwood County jury has returned a verdict of guilty against Ralph Apmann on the single count of second-degree unintentional murder during the course of a felony assault in the August 26, 2021 death of Juan Morales Rivera in Windom. Apmann was convicted at the conclusion of a week-long trial. 

Ralph Apmann had been drinking in a bar in Windom on August 25, 2021, where Juan Morales Rivera was also present and drinking. Apmann eventually asked Mr. Rivera to play pool with him, and at about midnight, Apmann and Mr. Morales Rivera went outside the bar to smoke. An altercation ensued during which Apmann threw Mr. Morales Rivera to the ground and held Mr. Rivera around the neck from behind until Mr. Morales Rivera lost consciousness. Apmann then walked outside the bar to the parking lot and left. Mr. Morales Rivera suffered numerous injuries, including injuries to his neck consistent with neck compression, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Attorney General Ellison’s office accepted and prosecuted the case upon the request of Cottonwood County Attorney Nicholas Anderson under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 8.01, which provides, “Upon request of the county attorney, the attorney general shall appear in court in such criminal cases as the attorney general deems proper.” Assistant Attorney General John Gross led this successful prosecution, closely assisted by County Attorney Anderson.  

“Once again, I’m proud of the attorneys in my office and the Cottonwood County Attorney’s Office who secured this conviction. I continue to be proud of our partnerships with county attorneys who are on the front lines of delivering justice to victims and communities. We stand at the ready to assist them and look forward to doing more,” Attorney General Ellison said. “My thoughts today are Mr. Morales Rivera’s family and everyone who was a victim of this crime. I hope this outcome brings them some measure of justice and healing.” 

Attorney General Ellison thanks Cottonwood County Attorney Nicholas Anderson for his partnership in this prosecution, and thanks the Windom Police Department, the Cottonwood County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Windom Health EMTs, and the Windom Area Hospital, all of whom assisted in the investigation that led to this conviction.