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Prosecutors reject Dikken plea

GRANITE FALLS — Prosecutors refused to hear Andrew Joseph Dikken’s offer to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Prosecutor Robert Plesha with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office told District Judge Thomas Van Hon that the state has filed notice it will bsse convening a grand jury in the case to seek a first-degree murder indictment in the double homicide.

The development in the case came at a Wednesday morning court hearing in Granite Falls at which Dikken, 28, of Renville, had intended to plead guilty to the two charges already filed against him of second-degree murder, intentional without premeditation.

Due to the prosecution’s action, Judge Thomas Van Hon said the court would not hear the plea that Dikken had been scheduled to make.

Dikken seemingly made known his anger at the development as he was escorted from the courtroom: He stared at members of the victims’ families, winked and then stared back with what was described as a smirk.

A grand jury is required to bring an indictment for first-degree murder. That charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In a court motion filed previously, Dikken had indicated he was intending to plead guilty to the two second-degree charges with the expectation under state sentencing guidelines of receiving a sentence of 632 months in prison, or 52½ years.

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 her 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.

Monson and Dikken had a past relationship, and court documents say Panitzke identified Dikken as the shooter. Panitzke was able to call 911 after the shooting and spoke to officers at the scene and again at the Granite Falls Hospital where he was initially treated.

Prosecutors previously were granted an order seeking a DNA swab from Dikken for comparison to DNA found on a tool recovered at the scene used to cut the gas line.

Dikken remains in custody in the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls on $3 million bail. The court set high bail last month over concerns for public safety and the risk of flight after Dikken was the focus of a two-week manhunt after the shooting.

 He has been in custody since Sept. 17 when he showed up at his parents’ home and they turned him into authorities.

Tom Cherveny

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

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