Woman sentenced for aiding and abetting in murder of Cromwell coupleCARLTON – The girlfriend of the man who shot a Cromwell couple to death at their home after robbing them was sentenced to 23 years in prison Friday for her role in the crime. Rachel Defoe, 26, of Cloquet
By: Jana Peterson/Mark Stodghill, Pine Journal
CARLTON – The girlfriend of the man who shot a Cromwell couple to death at their home after robbing them was sentenced to 23 years in prison Friday for her role in the crime.
Rachel Defoe, 26, of Cloquet pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the Jan. 9, 2011, slayings of Thomas Holm and his girlfriend, Kim Schmitz, who were both 53.
Defense attorney Joanna Wiegert read a statement from Defoe at the hearing in Carlton County Court.
“I’m not the only one you should be angry at,” Defoe had written. “I’m not the person who took two people’s lives. You should be angry at drugs. Drugs is what led to this horrific ordeal.”
She went on to talk about how you might know a person for 20 years and find out you only knew one side.
“I’m here today because of what someone else did,” she wrote, referring to her co-defendant Joshua Martineau, who pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional second-degree murder after shooting the two victims in the back of the head. Martineau received a 60-year prison sentence, 30 years for each victim. “He changed a lot of people’s lives in the blink of an eye. I take responsibility for taking part in a robbery, but nothing more. I had no idea he went in and took another man’s life. That’s what drugs will do to a person.”
Judge Robert Macaulay sentenced Defoe to 277 months in prison. The defendant received credit for the 500 days she has spent in the Carlton County Jail. If she follows prison rules, she will be released from prison after serving two-thirds of her sentence.
At his plea hearing, Martineau testified that he stole Holm’s guns and gave them to Defoe to hide. He said he didn’t tell Defoe that he shot the victims. He said he told her that he knocked them out and tied them up.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said the court went with the sentence he argued for, rather than the shorter sentenced the defense asked for.
“Obviously anything is difficult for the families,” Pertler said, when asked if victims’ families were in favor of the plea bargain. “We had four representatives of friends and family who gave victim impact statements though, very powerful statements, heartfelt.”
The statements were controlled but very blunt.
Debra Elmer talked about how much pain and suffering the murders placed on the family and friends of both Holm and Schmitz, stating at one point that she didn’t think Defoe should ever be released from prison.
“She should never get to see her family or child again,” Holm said. “Just like Tom and Kim won’t.”
Saying she wished there was an “eye for an eye” law, Elmer said her hope is that Defoe will share in their pain.
“I hope that the devil burdens you from inside and you can actually feel the pain you have caused all of Tom and Kim’s family and friends,” she said. “But I know that won’t happen, because you truly, Ms. Defoe, are the devil.”
Diane Bussiere talked about her friend Tom and best friend “Kimmer” – her “funny, outgoing confidant and card partner” – and how not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of them, or chuckle about all the crazy things they did together. She talked about the void their deaths left in the small community, how Defoe has to live with what she did and how she hopes Defoe’s years in prison will be long, hard and lonely.
“Spare me your tears, do not insult me with empty remorse,” Bussiere said, addressing Defoe. “Your only remorse is that you didn’t get away with it.”
According to court documents, Defoe drove Martineau 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.
Defoe drove back to the victims’ residence and remained in her vehicle while Martineau went into the residence and shot and killed Holm. Martineau loaded their vehicle with stolen property from the residence, including guns, fishing gear and a chain saw.
Defoe left the home and Martineau remained.
When Schmitz arrived home from work, Martineau shot her. Later that night, Martineau 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.
The cases against the defendants were built as a result of an investigation conducted by the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Investigators interviewed Martineau twice in the weeks after the slayings before he was arrested. During one of the interviews, he agreed to provide a DNA sample.
Analysts with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime lab in Bemidji determined that other than Martineau, 99.99993 percent of the general population could be excluded from contributing the DNA found in blood smears and a cigarette butt at the crime scene. Arrest warrants for Martineau and Defoe were issued that day.
They were taken into custody without incident about 2 a.m. March 2, 2011, in Hennepin County by U.S. marshals and agents with the Minneapolis Fugitive Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“It’s a good thing it has been resolved,” Pertler said. “It’s helpful for the families.”