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Lemcke murder trial delayed


BENSON -- An unexpected development will delay the start of the first degree murder trial for Andrew Gordon Lemcke, 34, of Appleton.

He is accused in the fatal shooting of his wife, Nichole Riley-Lemcke, 26, in their Appleton home on Sept. 12, 2004.

The start of the trial has now been moved from Oct. 16 to Feb. 22, 2010, in Glenwood.

The change is the result of the recent resignation of the public defender representing Lemcke.

Attorney Andrew Northrup has resigned his position with the Minnesota public defender's office in St. Paul to pursue a different career opportunity.

The attorney's withdrawal from the case was the subject of a hearing before District Judge Jon Stafsholt on Monday in Benson. The judge approved a defense motion to continue the trial until next year to give a new defense attorney an opportunity to prepare for it.

Attorney James Fleming has been retained to replace Northrup as the primary defense attorney in the matter, according to a letter filed with the court by Attorney Tim Johnson, chief public defender for the eighth district.

A Swift County grand jury indicted Lemcke in November 2008 on charges of first-degree, premeditated and second degree, intentional murder.

Lemcke is free after posting $10,000 cash bail in December 2008. A hearing on probable cause for the case was originally to have been held in February, but was delayed until July.

There is also an appeal by the defense to the Minnesota Court of Appeals that could affect the case. Prior to resigning his position as defense attorney, Northrup filed appeals on two rulings by District Judge Stafsholt.

The first motion appeals the judge's denial of earlier motions by the defense seeking to dismiss the grand jury indictment. The defense had argued that there was insufficient evidence presented to the grand jury for the indictment; that it had heard inadmissible evidence; and that other, alleged prosecutorial errors had occurred that were significant.

The second motion appeals the judge's decision to move the venue for the trial from Benson in Swift County to Glenwood in Pope County.

The judge had acted on his own to change the venue. He pointed out that two grand juries had been convened previously in Swift County on the matter, a letter by the defendant describing in detail his version of events had been published in the Appleton Press and that the case had received considerable newspaper coverage in Swift County.

The pre-trial appeals by the defense are discretionary, meaning the court may or may not decide to hear them.

Tom Cherveny

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

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