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Court rejects appeal by Dikken in double homicide

Andrew Dikken

GRANITE FALLS - Andrew Dikken cannot withdraw his guilty pleas to murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of Kara Monson and Chris Panitzke, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the state's high court affirmed an earlier decision by the district court that denied Dikken's request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Dikken, days shy of his 32nd birthday, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after having pleaded guilty in 2014 to first-degree, premeditated murder in the death of Monson, 26, and first-degree murder while committing a burglary in the death of Panitzke, 28.

Dikken was accused of breaking into Monson's home in Granite Falls on the night of Sept. 2, 2013, and shooting the two with a .380-caliber pistol in their bed. Monson had ended a relationship with Dikken months earlier.

After his arrest, Dikken filed a petition to plead guilty to the second-degree murder counts originally filed against him. The district court denied the petition when shortly before the court hearing, prosecutors notified the court of their intention to seek a grand jury indictment on first-degree murder charges.

A grand jury subsequently indicted Dikken on first-degree murder.

In his appeal, Dikken argued that the district court had erred in not accepting his unconditional plea to second-degree murder. He further argued that the "error was so significant that it impaired his ability to voluntarily and intelligently enter a guilty plea to the first-degree murder charges," according to the court's memorandum with the ruling.

The court stated that the issue before it was whether a "manifest injustice'' had occurred by not allowing him to withdraw his plea, and found that it had not. Dikken would need to prove that his guilty plea was invalid because it was inaccurate, involuntary or unintelligent, stated the court.

"Because he failed to raise a factual dispute on any of these elements, much less prove that they were absent, the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied his petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing,'' the court stated.

Dikken is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Tom Cherveny

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

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