Suspect in Cromwell double homicide seeks change of venueThe defense attorney for a Cloquet woman charged in the January slayings of Kim Schmitz and Thomas Holm requested a change of venue for her client’s eventual trial and asked the judge for time to file a written challenge to the grand jury indictment.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The defense attorney for a Cloquet woman charged in the January slayings of Kim Schmitz and Thomas Holm requested a change of venue for her client’s eventual trial and asked the judge for time to file a written challenge to the grand jury indictment.
Attorney Joanna Wiegert, representing Rachel Charlotte Defoe, 25, of Cloquet filed a motion to challenge the indictment against Defoe with 6th Judicial District Judge Robert Macaulay in Carlton County Court Thursday afternoon.
Defoe is accused of driving her companion, David Joshua Annette, 28, to the home of Schmitz and Holm, where authorities say Annette shot and killed both victims. According to the criminal complaints against Defoe and Annette, they worked together to steal property from the Holm and Schmitz home, including guns, fishing gear and a chain saw.
Defoe 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.
Wiegert told Macaulay that she would like to reserve the right to challenge the search warrant and the statements Defoe made to police.
“If the state intends to present what was presented to the grand jury, I don’t anticipate any challenges,” Wiegert told the judge.
However, she noted, the state’s current witness list has “hundreds” of names on it because every person who was interviewed during the two-month investigation is listed.
“A large portion of [the interview list] is not relevant to the proceedings. But there may be something that the state deems relevant that we have not noted,” Wiegert said, adding if the state would narrow its witness list she would be more likely to waive her right to challenge.
Macaulay asked Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler if he had provided Wiegert with copies of all the discovery – evidence and statements – in the case. Pertler asserted he had done so.
“There are no secret statements,” Pertler said, referring to the three or four statements Defoe gave to police. “What she [Defoe] said is what we know and that’s what we intend to pursue at the trial.”
During the hearing and again after it was over, Pertler asserted that he was unlikely to shorten his witness list.
“I can’t be boxed in with what the case will be,” the prosecuting attorney told the judge. “If I don’t list someone, then she will object at the trial so, of course, I have to list them.”
According to the criminal complaints charging Defoe and Annette, the defendants told investigators that Defoe drove Annette to the victims’ Cromwell residence for a visit in the early afternoon of Jan. 8. They then left the home for a short time and developed a plan to rob Holm.
Defoe allegedly drove back to the victims’ residence and remained in her vehicle while Annette went into the residence and shot and killed Holm. When Schmitz arrived home from work, Annette said that he killed her, too, according to the complaint.
An autopsy conducted at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that both victims had been killed by gunshot wounds to the head. Holm had two gunshot wounds to the back of his head and Schmitz had one gunshot wound to the back of her head.
Macaulay granted Wiegert until June 10 to file her written argument challenging the first-degree murder indictment and gave Pertler a week from that date to respond. The judge took under advisement her request for a change of venue.