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Grand jury indicts Dikken on six counts of first-degree murder

GRANITE FALLS — A Yellow Medicine County grand jury has indicted Andrew Joseph Dikken on six counts of first-degree murder in a September double homicide in Granite Falls.

He is charged in the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

The indictment was handed down Tuesday and includes two counts of first-degree murder for premeditation, two counts for murder while committing the act of burglary and two counts of murder while committing or attempting to commit arson.

Dikken, 28, of Renville, made his first appearance on the new charges early Tuesday evening before District Judge Thomas Van Hon, according to the court file.

Dikken had previously been charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the Sept. 2 shootings. Monson was dead at the scene, her riverside home in Granite Falls, and Panitzke died six days later of his injuries at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Each of them suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Under Minnesota law, the punishment for first-degree murder is life in prison without parole and only a grand jury can bring first-degree murder charges.

The indictment comes two weeks after Dikken’s offer to plead guilty to the second-degree murder charges, and serve more than 52 years in prison, was refused by Robert Plesha, the assistant state attorney general prosecuting the case.

Information in the indictment and the other court documents has begun to detail what prosecutors allege happened in the early morning hours of Sept. 2.  

Monson and her boyfriend, Panitzke, were asleep at Monson’s home when a person, later identified as Dikken, entered the house, came into the bedroom and turned on the lights before firing multiple times at the pair with a .380-caliber pistol. Panitzke called 911. He later told officers that Dikken had shot them and that Panitzke could hear Dikken moving about the house after the shooting.

Prosecutors earlier were granted an order to obtain Dikken’s DNA to compare it with DNA found on a tool recovered at the scene used to cut the gas line to the house in an apparent attempt to burn it down.

Panitzke identified Dikken as the assailant to multiple law enforcement officers who responded to the scene and at the Granite Falls Hospital where he was initially treated. Dikken had previously had a relationship with Monson.

The evidence in the case also includes surveillance footage of Dikken at the Casey’s convenience store just a few blocks from Monson’s home immediately after the shooting.

That was apparently the last confirmed sighting of him until he was in custody two weeks later.

Dikken’s pickup was located two days later in a gravel pit along the Minnesota River between Sacred Heart and Belview. A gun case found in the vehicle matched the description of a gun case reported stolen by a Dikken family member. Shell casings and bullets recovered at the scene of the shooting and recovered by the medical examiner matched the caliber of the missing gun the family member described.

The Minnesota River area was extensively searched by law enforcement, and Dikken eventually turned up at his parents’ home in Renville on Sept. 17. They turned him over to authorities in Renville County.

Dikken remains in custody in the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls and bail was reviewed Tuesday and remains at $3 million. He is represented by Stephen Ferrazzano II.

Dikken’s next court appearance is Dec. 9.

Tribune reporter Tom Cherveny and news editor Susan Lunneborg contributed to this report.

A copy of the indictment can be viewed here or at the link above. The original criminal complaint can be viewed here.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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