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Case against Appleton man charged in fatal shooting of wife to be outlined in February

BENSON -- An outline of what evidence led to a grand jury's indictment on first- and second-degree murder against Andrew Gordon Lemcke, 34, of Appleton, should be heard in early February.

Lemcke made his second appearance Friday in District Court in Benson on the charges for the Sept. 12, 2004, shooting death of his wife, Nichole Riley-Lemcke, 26, in their Appleton home.

Judge David Mennis indicated that a hearing in which the state must show there is probable cause for the charges against Lemcke should be scheduled in the second week of February.

Lemcke was accompanied Friday by his new defense team. Attorneys Andrew Northrup and Neil Tangen of the state Public Defender's Office are representing Lemcke. He had been represented by Appleton attorney Brian Wojtalewicz who informed the court he is withdrawing as Lemcke's representative in criminal proceedings.

Al Zdrazil of the Minnesota Attorney General's office and Robin Finke, Swift County attorney, are prosecuting the case for the state.

Friday's brief hearing was devoted to the initial discovery phase of the case. Zdrazil turned over to the defense more than 1,600 pages of material the state has collected in its investigation to date.

Defense attorney Northrup said he will seek transcripts of the two grand jury proceedings that have been held involving his client -- transcripts both of the testimony and of any other evidence presented. Zdrazil offered a transcript of the testimony from the first proceeding.

The case is unusual in that two grand juries have heard testimony. A grand jury convened in April 2005 returned no bill of indictment.

A second grand jury was convened in November and returned the indictment on charges of first-degree premeditated and second-degree intentional murder.

To date, the state has told the court only that it presented to the grand jury in November new forensic evidence and expert testimony based on that evidence. It has not offered information on the content of that evidence.

Lemcke is currently free after posting $10,000 bail after his initial court appearance on Dec. 19. He had been living in Florence, Ariz., and working as a corrections officer with the Corrections Corporation of America. He surrendered to authorities in Pinal County, Ariz., within hours of his attorney notifying him of the grand jury's indictment.

He had his employment terminated as a result of the charges, according to information provided at his first court appearance.

Lemcke has maintained that the shooting death of his wife was an accident, stating that it happened as he attempted to wrestle a gun from her and they fell. The parents of Nichole Riley-Lemcke, a mother of three, have pressed for criminal action and had brought a wrongful death suit against him.

Gary and Kim Riley of Montevideo charge that their daughter's marriage had soured, and that she had become aware of alleged insurance schemes. They allege she had told a number of people prior to her death that "if anything ever happens to me, you know where to look."