Cloquet man pleads not guilty to Cromwell killingsCARLTON — A Cloquet man pleaded not guilty Friday to four counts of first-degree murder Friday, and his defense attorney informed the court he will challenge the admissibility at trial of statements his client gave authorities as well as evidence gathered in the case.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
CARLTON — A Cloquet man pleaded not guilty Friday to four counts of first-degree murder Friday, and his defense attorney informed the court he will challenge the admissibility at trial of statements his client gave authorities as well as evidence gathered in the case.
David Joshua Annette, 28, was indicted by a Carlton County grand jury in March on two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit first-degree burglary and/or aggravated robbery.
His alleged accomplice, Rachel Charlotte Defoe, 25, is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit first-degree burglary and/or aggravated robbery.
The couple, who were romantically involved, are accused of taking part in the slayings of Kim Schmitz and her boyfriend, Thomas Holm, in the victims’ Cromwell home in January.
The defendants face a mandatory life prison sentence if convicted of first-degree murder. Duluth defense attorney Keith Shaw told Judge Robert Macaulay that he will challenge whether Annette knowingly waived his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and he also will challenge the search warrants executed to gather evidence against his client.
The court gave Shaw until July 15 to file written motions arguing his positions. Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler will have until July 29 to file briefs in support of the prosecution’s positions.
According to the criminal complaints charging Annette and Defoe, the defendants told investigators that Defoe drove Annette to the victims’ Cromwell residence for a visit in the early afternoon Jan. 8. They then left the home for a short time and developed a plan to rob Holm. Both Holm and Schmitz were 53 years old.
Defoe allegedly drove back to the victims’ residence and remained in her vehicle while Annette went into the residence and shot and killed Holm. Annette loaded their vehicle with stolen property from the residence, including guns, fishing gear and a chain saw. Defoe left the home and Annette remained.
When Schmitz arrived home from work, Annette said, he killed her, too, according to the complaint. Later that night, the complaint states, Annette put the clothes the defendants had been wearing into Holm’s truck, drove the truck into the ditch on Albert Road in St. Louis County and set it on fire.
An autopsy conducted at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that both victims had been killed by gunshot wounds to the back of their heads.