DES MOINES, Iowa (TCD) -- A 29-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison this week after he reportedly killed his friend with his truck in December 2020 following a fight about mayonnaise.
According to the Des Moines Register, Kristofer Erlbacher was found guilty of first-degree murder Dec. 10 following a bench trial, meaning there was no jury. Harrison County Judge Greg Steensland wrote in his decision, "The evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Erlbacher acted without justification."
The Des Moines Register reports the chain of events began when Erlbacher and the victim Caleb Solberg got into a fight because Erlbacher put mayo on Solberg’s food, and Solberg punched him. The two men and another friend were reportedly out drinking and eating at a bar in Moorhead.
On the night of Dec. 17, 2020, Harrison County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a hit-and-run call outside of Dave’s Old Home Cafe in Pisgah. The Iowa Department of Public Safety wrote in a statement that deputies found a deceased victim when they arrived at the scene. Law enforcement officials eventually located and arrested Erlbacher on a murder charge.
According to the affidavit provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, following Erlbacher and Solberg’s fight, Erlbacher and his friend Shaun Johnson reportedly drove to Dave’s Old Home Cafe, where Erlbacher called Solberg’s half-brother Craig Pryor and told him about the fight. Erlbacher reportedly called Pryor back and “threatened the life” of both Pryor and Solberg.
The affidavit says Solberg and Pryor went to the café separately and Solberg got into a fight with Johnson. Erlbacher reportedly left the establishment, got into his car, and hit Pryor’s vehicle twice. Erlbacher later struck Solberg with his truck, which "caused fatal injuries." Erlbacher reportedly called Pryor and told him he killed Solberg.
During the bench trial, Erlbacher reportedly argued he was drunk, but Judge Steensland wrote in his decision, “Even if Erlbacher is under the influence of alcohol, he is responsible for his acts if he had sufficient mental capacity to form the specific intent necessary. Intoxication is a defense, only when it causes a mental disability which makes a person incapable of forming specific intent.”