Iowa Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Friend... Over Mayonnaise

Iowa Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Friend... Over Mayonnaise
(AP Photo/Unilever, File)

“Bring out the best.” If you’re unfamiliar with the famous slogan, take a closer look at the featured image, above. Hellmann’s mayonnaise has been “bring(ing) out the best” in America for more than 100 years.

Except on December 17, 2020, in rural Iowa, that is.

Not only did 29-year-old Kristofer Erlbacher kill 30-year-old Caleb Solberg with his pickup truck; he struck him once, turned around and hit him again, then came back and ran over him to make sure he was dead.

Oh, and Erlbacher also called Solberg’s brother to tell him he had just killed Solberg.

As reported by the Twiner Herald, Solberg, Erlbacher, and a third person were eating and drinking at a bar in Moorhead, Iowa, when Erlbacher spread mayo on Solberg’s food. So, Solberg reacted like any sane person would react [heavy sarc], and punched Erlbacher in the face.

Needless to say, it was game-on — a steel cage death match over damn mayonnaise.

Erlbacher and the third person then drove about 10 minutes to Dave’s Old Home café in Pisgah, Iowa — population: 261. While en route, Erlbacher called Solberg’s half-brother, Craig Pryor, twice, and threatened to set Solberg’s house on fire and shoot him to death with his shotgun. Pryor then drove to the café. Round two was already underway in the bar.

The third person met Pryor outside and warned him about Erlbacher, who was inside, according to the complaint. Solberg arrived at the café and spoke with Pryor before a fight broke out between Solberg and the other person. If you need a scorecard, here, you’re not alone.

So… here’s the deal, via the Des Moines Register:

Erlbacher left after that fight ended and used his 2001 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck to hit Pryor’s vehicle while Pryor was inside it, according to a criminal complaint. When Pryor got out to assess the damage, Erlbacher rammed Pryor and Pryor’s vehicle.

Around 10 p.m. Erlbacher fatally struck Solberg with his pickup truck. The first blow did not kill him, according to the verdict.

Erlbacher went down a street, turned around, came back, and struck Solberg a second time. Solberg ended up on the pavement under the back of an SUV parked outside the cafe, according to the verdict. Erlbacher drove over Solberg one last time to be sure he killed Solberg, according to the verdict.

Erlbacher’s vehicle broke down. So he called his father for assistance. He also called Pryor to tell him he killed his brother.

Again, totally normal reaction. Nothing crazy-a** at all went on, here.

Erlbacher was convicted after a bench trial in December 2021 and sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

District Judge Greg Steensland wrote in the verdict, according to the Twiner-Herald:

Erlbacher’s first blow to Solberg did not kill him. He can be heard screaming for his brother, Craig Pryor. Rather than just leave, Erlbacher went down the street, turned around, and came back to strike Solberg a second time … To be sure he had completed the job, Erlbacher drove his truck up and over Solberg one last time.

Pryor summed up the whole thing with the understatement of understatements: “It was just another bar fight in Harrison County,’ until it wasn’t any longer.”

Erlbacher of course claimed he acted out of self-defense, and while he admitted to being intoxicated, he didn’t mean to kill Solberg. Of course not. I mean, who’d a thunk hitting a person with a pickup truck. Twice. Then coming back and running over the guy would kill him?

Silly judge. Obvious socioeconomic and/or intellectual capacity (or lack thereof) bias.

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