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North Shore resort worker sentenced to 12½ years for 2015 murder

Kirk Lee Bigby

GRAND MARAIS — A North Shore resort worker who admitted to fatally shooting another man outside a holiday party in December 2015 was sentenced Wednesday to 12½ years in prison.

Kirk Lee Bigby, 63, received the sentence from 6th Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden after an emotional, nearly two-hour hearing in State District Court in Grand Marais.

Bigby pleaded guilty in May to a charge of unintentional second-degree murder in the slaying of 35-year-old Marcus Lee Roberts outside Bluefin Bay in Tofte. The victim was a Twin Cities native who was working for an outside company providing entertainment for an employee gathering at the popular resort.

While few details have emerged on the incident, one witness reportedly told police that he witnessed Bigby “just pull out a gun and shoot this guy,” according to a criminal complaint.

Bigby never denied shooting Roberts, but initially maintained that he did so in self-defense. When he pleaded guilty in May, defense attorney Dave Risk told the News Tribune that Bigby was still asserting that Roberts was the “first aggressor” but acknowledged that he used “too much force.”

Under a plea agreement with the Cook County Attorney’s Office, Bigby faced between 128 and 150 months in prison. Prosecutors also dropped a more-serious intentional second-degree murder charge.

It was the first murder case in Cook County in more than a decade.