WINONA, Minn. — Zane Robert Pederson, 32, of Spicer, was sentenced to 20 years and 10 months in prison for a prolonged home invasion and sexual assault in November 2018.
He was sentenced Wednesday, Feb. 10, in Winona County District Court.
Pederson spent several early morning hours in a Winona County woman’s home on Nov. 18, 2018. During that time, he raped her repeatedly and threatened her life and the life of her child, who was asleep in the home.
Pederson has been incarcerated since his arrest in March 2019 with bail set at $2 million. He was linked to the Winona County incident by DNA that had been collected, with his consent, during a Willmar Police Department investigation. Pederson had been accused of sexual assault by a man living in a Willmar group home where Pederson worked. He denied the assault and said his DNA would not be on the man.
Pederson will receive credit on his prison sentence for the nearly two years he has already served. According to state law, he must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in custody, and the remainder may be served on supervised release.
Pederson was ordered to serve a full 10 years on supervised release after leaving custody. He was also ordered to register as a predatory offender.
Pederson had been charged with 18 counts of criminal sexual conduct and burglary in the home invasion case. He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct causing fear of great bodily harm.
As part of a plea agreement, Pederson agreed that the attack involved multiple penetrations and that the victim was particularly vulnerable during the attack. The woman was in bed when Pederson broke in, she had been zip-tied during a part of the incident, and her ability to flee was complicated by the presence of her young child in the home.
He pleaded guilty to a separate burglary charge for allegedly breaking into the woman’s home the night before the attack.
A grand jury had indicted Pederson in April 2019 with several counts of criminal sexual conduct specifying “heinous elements.” A conviction on some of the counts in the indictment could have resulted in a life sentence.
The description of Pederson’s actions that morning are chilling.
According to court documents, the woman told authorities she awoke in the night to sounds in her house and the sight of a masked man standing at the foot of her bed with a handgun.
She accused Pederson of raping her three times. He talked about going to her child’s school and killing the child. When she said she would do anything to protect her child, he told her to prove it.
Pederson also talked about using the woman’s own gun to kill her so that a family member would be blamed. When she begged for her life and the life of her child, he claimed it was a joke and said he was “a rapist, not a monster.”
Before he left, he tried to destroy some evidence, and she later found an article of her clothing was missing.
After the DNA sample linked Pederson to both reported assaults, authorities in Winona County executed a search warrant at Pederson’s home in Spicer. In his home, authorities found clothing matching descriptions from the Willmar and Winona County incidents, a loaded handgun and the article of clothing taken from the woman’s home.
When Pederson was questioned, he said he had been using methamphetamine again and had gone to the woman’s home to steal photographs off her computer and phone. He claimed the victim had suggested having sex.