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Appleton man found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of wife

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

GLENWOOD -- Andrew Lemcke, 35, was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 12, 2004, shooting death of his wife, Nichole Lemcke Riley, 26, in their Appleton home.

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Lemcke faced charges of first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree intentional mu-rder.

The verdict was rendered by a Pope County jury of seven women and five men at 8:30 p.m. following 10½ hours of deliberations, according to information provided to the Tribune by the Pope County Tribune.

District Judge Jon Stafsholt ordered that Lemcke be remanded into custody. He had been free after posting a $10,000 bail bond after his indictment in December 2008. The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and said he will consider motions raised by the defense asking that Lemcke's bail be continued.

The jury's verdict was delivered to a courtroom with apprehensive family members from both sides. It follows 12 days of testimony.

Trial testimony focused largely on the troubled relationship between Lemcke and his wife.

Lemcke had testified on his own behalf. He told the jury that the shooting was an accident. He said his wife had come into the living room with the handgun, and fired a shot that woke him up while voicing fears about a former boyfriend. He tried to wrestle the gun from her, and she twisted as they fell on to the couch and the gun discharged.

Defense Attorney James Fleming told the jury in opening arguments that Lemcke's wife suffered night terrors and was under a great deal of stress.

Prosecutor Al Zdrazil told the jury that he believed Lemcke was upset with his wife for cheating on him and argued with her when she returned home sometime after 4 a.m. after being with her lover. The prosecutor told the jury that Lemcke "stomped" out of their house in anger, and returned with a .40 caliber handgun from his parent's home.

Pathologist Dr. Kelly Mills of the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office had earlier testified that she believed the death was a homicide. The gun was fired directly under the victim's chin in a straight trajectory, and the barrel was in an "atypical" position for the victim to be holding it as the defendant claimed, she said.

The prosecution also pointed out evidence indicated that as much as six or seven minutes transpired after the shooting before Lemcke made a 911 call from the house to seek help, and that he carried her tossed over his shoulder, allowing her to bleed profusely.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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