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Attorney General Ellison secures guilty plea for son's 2nd-degree murder of father

Attorney General’s Office prosecuted case on referral from Le Sueur County Attorney’s office


October 4, 2022

October 3, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today secured the guilty plea in Le Sueur County of Hardy Willis-Traxler on one count of second-degree intentional murder in the death of his father, Bruce Traxler.

On January 24, 2021, Hardy Willis-Traxler and his father Bruce, who lived together, got into an argument that included a staring contest. Willis-Traxler claimed his father hit him in the shoulder, to which he responded by stabbing his father to death and setting fire to their residence outside Le Center. Jeff Traxler, brother of the victim, alerted authorities to the fire and told them he believed his nephew “did something.”

In exchange for Willis-Traxler’s guilty plea to second-degree murder, the state agreed to dismiss one count of first-degree arson and not to seek an upward departure from sentencing guidelines based on aggravating factors. Willis-Traxler is expected to be sentenced to 306 months in prison, or 25 ½ years, for the murder of his father.

Attorney General Ellison accepted prosecution of this case upon referral from the Le Sueur County Attorney’s Office, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Sec. 8.01. Since 2019, attorneys of the Criminal Division of Attorney General Ellison’s office have prosecuted 40 cases of serious violent crime in nearly two dozen counties across Minnesota, including cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, criminal vehicular homicide, and criminal sexual assault. To date, Attorney General Ellison’s Office has not lost a single one of these cases. Since 2019, Attorney General Ellison has repeatedly asked the Legislature to fund more prosecutors for the Criminal Division, which the Minnesota Senate has refused to provide.

“Hardy Willis-Traxler brutally stabbed his own father to death. It was a crime that hurt not only his family, but the community of Le Center and beyond. I want to thank law-enforcement agencies for solving this crime, the Le Sueur County Attorney’s office for their cooperation, and the attorneys in my office for successfully pursuing justice. As always, my thoughts today are with the survivors of this crime. I hope that holding Willis-Traxler accountable provides them with some measure of healing,” Attorney General Ellison said.

“Though original criminal jurisdiction for this murder lies with the Le Sueur County Attorney, as similar cases do with all county attorneys, I took this case on the request of the Le Sueur County Attorney because under the law, it is my job to assist our county attorneys when they ask for the help. Minnesotans in every corner of our state deserve equal justice and my office is here to help provide it. When a prosecutor asks for my help, I will seek justice for victims and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.


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