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Lawyer for alleged accomplice in Willmar homicide says she should be tried only if Blue convicted

WILLMAR -- The lawyer for Lori Jean Harris Gafkjen, who is accused of aiding an offender after a murder, says she should not be tried unless the alleged killer is convicted.

Lori Jean Harris Gafkjen
Lori Jean Harris Gafkjen

WILLMAR - The lawyer for Lori Jean Harris Gafkjen, who is accused of aiding an offender after a murder, says she should not be tried unless the alleged killer is convicted.

John Mack raised that issue and also whether there was probable cause for the charges against Gafkjen, 51, of Brooten, at an omnibus hearing Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Caleb Aaron Blue, 35, of Willmar, has been indicted for first-degree murder in the death of David Medellin, 24, of Willmar in October 2018.

Gafkjen, formerly known as Lori Jean Glesne, is charged with three counts of aiding an offender, all felonies. Two of the charges allege that she was an accomplice after the fact, and another alleges she helped Blue to avoid arrest.

According to court records, Gafkjen is accused of taking Blue to Glacial Ridge Hospital in Glenwood to have a gash in his right hand tended, rather than to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. The two then spent several days at a hotel in Paynesville before going to a hotel in the Twin Cities.

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Mack asked to submit written argument on the issues. Mack is to submit his brief Feb. 24, and county prosecutors will have until March 11 to respond. Mack reserved the right to file a reply by March 18.

Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Kent Bauman testified in the hearing about his work in investigating Medellin's death.

Medellin died of multiple stab wounds, he said, and his body was found Oct. 31 in a field east of Willmar. The investigation revealed that Medellin likely died Oct. 25, he said.

Bauman testified about Gafkjen's statements to authorities after she and Blue were arrested and about other aspects of the investigation. Bauman said he had directed the investigation into the Medellin death and was familiar with Gafkjen because she once worked as a corrections officer in the Kandiyohi County Jail. She met Blue when he was an inmate.

Gafkjen had stopped working for the county in summer 2018, he said, and she and Blue began spending time together after he got out of jail, eventually developing a sexual relationship.

Gafkjen allegedly told authorities that Blue always carried a black and silver knife, and she found Blue's "gangster" lifestyle exciting.

Blue had allegedly told authorities that he had been hearing voices saying, "kill, kill, kill," and had told family he was "on a dark path." Gafkjen had allegedly urged him to get help and had been giving him rides to therapy.

Other acquaintances of the couple told authorities they allegedly overheard Blue say about five weeks before the homicide that he "needed to do something" about Medellin. Blue also allegedly carried a hit list in his wallet.

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Under questioning from Assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney James Anderson, Bauman said there was no indication that Gafkjen was at the scene of the death and that she said she learned of it Nov. 2 or Nov. 3. Blue and Gafkjen were arrested in a Twin Cities suburb Nov. 5, Bauman said.

Mack had questions about Gafkjen's two vehicles, which are both impounded. One was allegedly used to take Blue to Glenwood; the other was used to travel to the metropolitan area.

Mack asked if the cars were needed. Gafkjen has been applying for jobs and attending medical appointments, he said, and it's difficult for her to be without a vehicle.

Anderson said he did not yet know what evidence would be used in a trial, and because they were allegedly used in the commission of a felony, they could be subject to forfeiture.

Related Topics: KANDIYOHIBROOTENGLENWOOD
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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