Mental health defense planned in Dikken case

GRANITE FALLS – Attorneys for a man accused of killing two people in Granite Falls in September said Friday they plan to make a mental illness defense in the case. They also asked a judge for time to decide whether to challenge a grand jury’s indictment of Andrew Joseph Dikken for charges of first degree murder.

Dikken, 28, of Renville, appeared in Yellow Medicine County District Court on Friday morning. Dikken is charged with six counts of first degree murder, including two counts of murder while committing burglary and two counts of murder while attempting to commit arson, in the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, 26, and Christopher Panitzke, 28. Dikken allegedly entered Monson’s residence in Granite Falls in the early hours of Sept. 2 and shot Monson and Panitzke multiple times. Monson died at the scene, and Panitzke died several days later of complications from gunshot wounds. Investigators also found that gas lines had been cut in the house where the shooting took place.

In November, a grand jury gave an indictment saying there was sufficient evidence to charge Dikken with first degree murder.

At Friday’s hearing, defense attorney Stephen Ferrazzano said he had two issues to bring before the court. The first was to request 30 days to decide whether to challenge the grand jury indictment. District Court Judge Thomas Van Hon said Ferrazzano had until March 14 to either file a brief challenging the indictment, or notify the court that the defense won’t challenge the indictment. If a challenge is filed, prosecuting attorneys will have 30 days to file a response.

The second issue Ferrazzano brought before the court was notice of his intent to pursue a mental illness defense for Dikken, under Rule 20.02 of the Minnesota criminal procedures.

Rule 20 of the state criminal procedures covers issues including mental illness defenses and competency to stand trial. Under the rule, an attorney must notify the court of his intent to pursue a mental illness defense, before a court-ordered psychological examination of a defendant can be made. Ferrazzano asked that Dikken be given a psychological exam.

Attorneys also requested Friday that a trial date for Dikken be set in September.