Duluth grocery store killing case to resume - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Duluth grocery store killing case to resume

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DULUTH, MN -

The suspect in a gruesome Duluth murder 3 years ago, has been found competent to proceed in court after undergoing three years of treatment.

38-year old Jesse Dahlstrom is accused of fatally stabbing 75 year old Sally Pionk in a West Duluth Super One in December of 2014. 

The case has been on hold since Dahlstrom's arraignment, when a mental health evaluation was ordered. According to court documents, Dahlstrom has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Doctors at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, where Dahlstrom was civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous, have informed the court he is able to understand the proceedings and participate in his defense.  That means the case can resume. However, Dahlstrom remains at the hospital and it may be many months before he can appear in court again. 

Dahlstrom faces one count of first degree premeditated murder. That's after he allegedly entered a West Duluth Super One with a steak knife, and stabbed Sally Pionk, who later died from blood loss from wounds to her neck. 

Court Documents say Dahlstrom confessed to the crime, saying he went to the store to "either shop, or kill somebody". 

During his court appearances, Dahlstrom has reportedly mumbled throughout the hearings, and refused to acknowledge his name, among other abnormal behaviors. His public defender also reported Dahlstrom was "extremely uncooperative" when she tried to meet with him. 

Both prosecuting and defense attorneys have requested an additional evaluation that will provide insight on Dahlstrom's mental health at the time he allegedly committed the crime. That could as many as two months to prepare, and could be used as evidence in future court dates, which have not been set. 

A grand jury is typically required, withing 14 days of charges being issued, for indictment on a first degree murder charge. That has been put on hold, as the case has also been on hold. 

The Assistant St. Louis County Attorney, Rebekka Stumme, said she will bring an amended criminal complaint forward. Her goal is to reduce the charge to intentional second-degree murder, which does not require grand jury approval.

Stumme said move allows Dahlstrom's evaluation to be completed before prosecutors decide whether to pursue the first-degree charge.

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