Laraby pleads guilty to murder
GRANITE FALLS -- Chad Laraby, 53, of Granite Falls, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony second-degree murder charge for fatally punching his longtime girlfriend in the head.
GRANITE FALLS - Chad Laraby, 53, of Granite Falls, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony second-degree murder charge for fatally punching his longtime girlfriend in the head.
The attack occurred at about 1 a.m. March 16 during an argument in her home.
Linda Kay (Haugen) Boehme, one week shy of her 66th birthday, died several hours later at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis of severe brain bleeding due to blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner’s report.
Laraby entered his plea Tuesday in District Court in Granite Falls to second-degree murder - without intent - while committing a felony as part of a plea agreement in which his possible sentence remains to be decided. He will receive a minimum of a 150-month prison sentence, but it could be as long as 240 months if District Judge Dwayne Knutsen finds that there were “aggravating factors’’ that warrant a more severe sentence.
Judge Knutsen deferred acceptance of Laraby’s guilty plea on Tuesday and ordered that a trial be scheduled on the motion by the prosecution seeking what is called an “upward departure” in sentencing.
Family members of the victim listened in the courtroom as Laraby answered questions describing how he punched Boehme with his fists on both sides of her face. Laraby said he could not recall for sure, but believes he struck her four or five times on each side.
Laraby said he had gone to Boehme’s home in Granite Falls that day after being discharged from the hospital. He said he was still in pain and was taking a nap, getting his first good sleep as the pain lessened when Boehme woke him up.
He had misplaced his wallet, and according to the criminal complaint, accused Boehme of trying to take it. In court, he said she had not taken his wallet but said they had begun arguing when he suddenly threw punches at her.
“I can’t remember exactly,’’ he testified. “It seemed like it went pretty quick, seconds, 15 seconds went by maybe, perhaps.’’
He could not recall if she was standing or sitting at the time, although in a signed confession to Granite Falls Police Chief Brian Strufert he had stated she had been standing.
Laraby told the court that Boehme told him her head felt like it was swelling. He put a pillow behind her and made a place for her on the living room couch.
Suspecting that “something perhaps is seriously wrong,’’ Laraby said he called 911 for an ambulance.
He said the call may have been made five minutes after Boehme expressed fears about her head swelling up.
As part of the court proceedings, Laraby waived his right to have a jury consider whether there were aggravating factors that would warrant an upward departure in sentence. Judge Knutsen will hear testimony at a date yet to be decided on the prosecution’s argument for the more severe sentence.
Sentencing guidelines recommend a 180-month sentence for the offense and a defendant with no serious criminal history. The prosecution is asking for an additional 60 months.
Robert Plesha, Minnesota State Attorney General’s office, and Stacy Vinberg, assistant Yellow Medicine County attorney, will argue that four aggravating factors existed for an upward departure.
As part of their motion, they allege that the victim was particularly vulnerable due to her age and condition; was treated with particular cruelty; that her expectation of privacy was violated in her own home; and that there was an abuse of a trusting relationship.