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Forum News Service, Published October 01 2013

Defense rests in Duluth synthetic drug case

MINNEAPOLIS - Jurors in the trial of a Duluth business owner accused of misbranding and selling synthetic drugs have now heard all of the evidence they will consider, but they will have to wait awhile to begin deliberations.

The defense rested its case Tuesday morning without any of the defendants taking the stand, one day after the government rested. Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, 56, is charged with 55 federal crimes for allegedly selling drugs under labeled as incense or bath salts at the store, as well as money laundering. His girlfriend, Lava Haugen, 33, and son, Joseph Gellerman, 34, face four charges apiece.

But due to the complicated nature of the case, the jury was sent home early and the entire afternoon was set aside for attorneys and Judge David S. Doty to discuss jury instructions.

Attorneys will present closing arguments to jurors this morning, after which Doty will provide legal instructions and narrow the jury down from 14 to 12 members. Despite the possibility of deliberations lasting several days, Doty assured jurors they would not be sequestered.