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Man Convicted of Hanging Teen

November 12, 1998

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) _ A man who was said to be obsessed with hangings was convicted of murder in the case of an 18-year-old friend who died while the two were supposedly practicing hangings.

A jury Monday found Shawn Padden, 24, guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He could get up to 35 years in prison.

His friend, Greggory Meissner, was found Jan. 5 hanging from a closet door in his bedroom, his hands tied behind his back.

Prosecutors said that while the two men were practicing hangings, Padden pulled the chair away before Meissner was ready and then watched him dangle and finally die.

Padden denied he was at Meissner’s home that night.

Prosecutors’ case was largely based on circumstantial evidence that included cigarette butts in the teen’s room and an empty cigarette pack in a wastebasket. The cigarettes were Padden’s brand, prosecutors said.

Under the third-degree murder charge, prosecutors did not have to show that Padden intended to kill, only that he showed no regard for human life.

Prosecutors said Padden used to carry around a picture of a hanging victim found on the Internet.

Several witnesses said the two men had practiced the hanging ritual before. One said Meissner had told him of a time when Padden kicked a chair out from under him and he had to struggle to free himself from the rope.

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