County attorney will convene grand jury in Cromwell homicide caseCarlton County Attorney Thom Pertler filed notice on Monday that a grand jury will be convened to consider first-degree murder charges against Rachel Charlotte Defoe, 25, and David Joshua Annette, 28.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler filed notice on Monday that a grand jury will be convened to consider first-degree murder charges against Rachel Charlotte Defoe, 25, and David Joshua Annette, 28. The two have been charged in the double homicide of Cromwell residents Tom Holm and Kim Schmitz on Jan. 8.
Pertler said he has notified attorneys for both Defoe and Annette that their clients have the right to appear before the grand jury if they so desire. The matter will be discussed at a scheduled Rule 8 hearing in Carlton County Court at 11 a.m. this Friday, March18. Northeastern Minnesota Chief Public Defender Fred Friedman has appointed Duluth lawyer Keith Shaw to represent Annette and Cloquet lawyer Joanna Wiegert to represent Defoe.
Pertler said the grand jury must be assembled within 10 days of the time the notice is filed and indicated that jury members will likely convene next Monday, March 21. He said the first order of business will be to orient jury members, and then they will be given their instructions by the judge. Pertler will then introduce the case and the findings will be presented. Grand jury members also have the opportunity to ask questions of their own.
When all of the facts have been presented, members of the grand jury will be sequestered until they have reached a decision.
Pertler explained that a grand jury must consist of no less than 16 members and no more than 23. In order to make a determination to file first-degree murder charges against Defoe and Annette, at least 12 of the members present must agree to it.
Both defendants remain in the Carlton County Jail after Judge Robert Macaulay set bail at $1 million each.
Annette and Defoe, both of Cloquet, are each currently charged with two counts of murder in the second degree. According to the criminal complaints filed against them, both Annette and Defoe confessed to investigators, admitting to their involvement in the double homicide.
The county attorney’s office cannot charge suspects with first-degree murder. That determination must be left up to a grand jury. The major difference between first- and second-degree charges lies in the sentencing guidelines. A first-degree murder conviction can carry with it a life sentence, while someone found guilty on a second-degree charge could feasibly serve as little as 16 years, depending on his or her criminal history score.