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Montevideo, Minn., man seeking 2nd-degree murder plea in girl's death

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MONTEVIDEO -- The 25-year-old Montevideo man charged in the fatal stabbing of a co-worker has filed a motion seeking to enter a guilty plea to second-degree murder.

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A grand jury indicted Darek Nelson on a first-degree, premeditated murder charge in the Jan. 13 stabbing of Vinessa Loz-ano, 18. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of release.

He also faces charges of second-degree murder, with intent, and two second-degree assault charges for the incident.

Chippewa County Attorney David Gilbertson said he intends to file a motion opposing the defense request to plead guilty to second-degree murder.

The attorney said the decision on whether to accept the guilty plea belongs to the court. Courts are not likely to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge when it is opposed by the prosecution, he said.

Nelson's defense attorney has also filed a motion seeking to suppress statements that Nelson made following his arrest the night of the stabbing.

The motions come prior to a Nov. 16 hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to bring the case forward.

Nelson was previously ruled competent to stand trial.

Court records indicate that Lozano had been stabbed 33 times in an attack as she left the Pizza Ranch, where the two worked.

The criminal complaint alleges that Nelson told investigators that he hid a knife in a hoodie he brought to work and intended to kill her if she rejected his interest in her.

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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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