Double murder case headed to grand jury

GRANITE FALLS – Instead of accepting a guilty plea, prosecutors said the case of a man charged with killing two people in Granite Falls in September will go before a grand jury.

At a hearing Wednesday morning, prosecutors said they were pursuing an indictment to charge Andrew Joseph Dikken with first degree murder.

Dikken, 28, of Renville, is charged with two counts of second degree murder in the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Minnesota law says a grand jury must be called in order to charge a defendant with first degree murder.

A complaint alleges Dikken entered Monson’s home in the early hours of Sept. 2 and shot Monson and Panitzke multiple times. Monson died at the scene, and Panitzke died of complications from his wounds several days later.

The complaint alleges Panitzke identified Dikken as the shooter to law enforcement.

Earlier this month, Dikken and his attorneys had filed a petition in Yellow Medicine County District Court offering to plead guilty to the two counts of second-degree murder, with the expectation of being sentenced to more than 50 years in prison. However, at Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutor Robert Plesha of the state attorney general’s office said the state had filed notice to present the case to a grand jury. In light of the prosecution’s decision, District Court Judge Thomas Van Hon said the guilty plea could not be entered.

The sentence for first degree murder is life in prison.

– Deb Gau