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Dikken offers to plead guilty to second degree murder charges

GRANITE FALLS — Andrew Joseph Dikken is offering to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, according to a motion filed Wednesday with the District Court in Granite Falls.

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Dikken, 28, of Renville, is charged in Yellow Medicine County with separate counts of second-degree murder, with intent but not premeditated, in the shootings of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Dikken remains in custody in the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls on $3 million bail.

The criminal complaint alleges that Dikken entered Monson’s Granite Falls home in the early morning hours of Sept. 1, turned on the lights and shot her and boyfriend Panitzke as they slept.

Monson died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds. Panitzke died Sept. 8 at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis of complications from the multiple gunshot wounds he suffered.

Panitzke had called 911 shortly after the shooting and identified Dikken — a former boyfriend of Monson — as the assailant, according to the complaint.

In offering to plead guilty, Dikken states in the document that the prosecution is unwilling to discuss a reduced sentence in exchange for the plea.

If he were to plead guilty to the two counts, Dikken said he expects under state sentencing guidelines he would receive a sentence of 632 months in prison, or 52½ years.  Sentencing guidelines would require consecutive sentences of 306 months on the first conviction and 326 months on the second, according to the court filing.  

In this situation, Dikken would spend a minimum of 35 behind bars, even if he were able to reduce his prison time by one-third through good behavior. He would be 63 years old before eligible for release under a supervised probation program.

The prosecution has not responded to the plea offer.

It had previously filed a motion stating it will be asking the court to find that there were “aggravating factors” in the homicides that would allow for longer sentences than specified by the guidelines.

Each count of second-degree murder carries a maximum possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

The prosecution has not indicated whether it will convene a grand jury in the case. Only a grand jury can bring an indictment for first-degree murder, which would carry a life sentence.

The prosecution has alleged in the criminal complaint that Dikken had sent text messages to Monson in the hours before the shooting. Also, it alleges that investigators learned that a text had been sent to a Monson family member that “indicated that Dikken was threatening Kara’s life.’’

At a previous court hearing, the prosecution also indicated that gas lines to Monson’s home had been cut.

The family of Kara Monson learned of the plea offer on Thursday, and had not conferred with prosecutors about it, according to a family spokesman.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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