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Judge sets timeline for defense motions in Dikken murder trial

GRANITE FALLS — The man charged with killing his former girlfriend and her friend last fall in her Granite Falls home appeared in court briefly on Friday ahead of a September jury trial.

Attorneys for Andrew Dikken were given until July 3 to file any motions seeking to use any defense other than a “not guilty” plea in the first-degree murder case against Dikken for the September shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

As at previous hearings, Dikken was kept in handcuffs and ankle shackles during Friday’s hearing, and uniformed police and sheriff’s officers and officers in plain clothes held positions in the courtroom. Monson’s family and friends wore purple shirts in her honor and Panitzke’s supporters wore blaze orange shirts, filling the courtroom at the Granite Falls courthouse.

Dikken appeared with his attorneys, Stephen Ferrazzano and Benjamin Pieh. District Judge Thomas Van Hon also gave the defense attorneys until July 3 to file their witness and exhibit lists and proposed juror questionnaire.

Dikken, 28, of Renville, is scheduled for a three-week long jury trial beginning Sept. 8 in front of Van Hon in Yellow Medicine County District Court.

Dikken is accused of fatally shooting Monson, with whom he had a previous relationship, and Panitzke as they slept in Monson’s home on Sept. 2. Panitzke was able to call 911 and court documents say he identified Dikken as the shooter to police officers at the scene and again later as he was being treated for his wounds. Panitzke died six days later at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

In November, a grand jury indicted Dikken on six counts of first-degree murder. He faces 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. Investigators say he tampered with a gas line at Monson’s home.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Dikken faces the possibility of life in prison.

Dikken has been held on $3 million bail in the Yellow Medicine County Jail since Sept. 17 when he showed up at his parents’ Renville home and turned himself into the Renville County Sheriff’s Office. He had been the subject of a two-week manhunt after the killings.

The defense attorneys had sought to raise a mental health defense and Van Hon ordered a mental health evaluation in February. The results of that evaluation are not public record.

The case is being prosecuted by Robert Plesha, with the state attorney general’s office, and County Attorney Keith Helgeson. Plesha noted during the hearing that there were no amendments to the charges.

The prosecution has filed its witness list, which is nine pages long, and exhibit lists, including evidence collected from Monson’s home, from Dikken’s pickup, his bank account and cell phone records.

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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