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No plea, prosecutor to convene grand jury in Granite Falls double homicide

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 be convening a grand jury in the case.

The development came at a Wednesday morning court hearing in Granite Falls at which Dikken, 28 of Renville, had intended to plead guilty to two separate charges 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 during the hearing.

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 52 ½ 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 and Dikken had a past relationship.

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.

Tom Cherveny

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

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