Monday, February 6, 2012

Garrison, MN: Minnesota woman, accused of running over husband with van, faces premeditated murder for his death 18 months ago

A 61-year-old Garrison, Minn., woman faces first-degree premeditated murder and two other charges after her husband was run over by a vehicle nearly 18 months ago.

A Cass County grand jury indicted Helene Teresa Mitchell-Abraham last week. She made her first appearance Monday on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, second-degree intentional murder and interference with a dead body, according to the county’s Attorney’s Office.

Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said the additional charge of premeditated murder came after investigators uncovered more evidence in the Sept. 23, 2010 death of 64-year-old Wendall Wayne Abraham.

Court papers claim she intentionally struck and killed her husband with a motor vehicle.

The original criminal report said Mitchell-Abraham saw her husband walk behind her van, so she put the van into reverse and floored it, striking and killing him. Mitchell-Abraham then allegedly used a rope to drag her husband’s body into the woods and fled. His body was found more than two weeks later.

In Minnesota, only a grand jury can indict someone on first-degree murder. In Mitchell-Abraham’s case, a grand jury considered two days of testimony before returning the first-degree indictment, according to a news release from Strandlie.

If convicted, the charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. A conviction for second-degree intentional murder carries a maximum of 40 years in prison while a conviction for interfering with a dead body carries up to a year in jail.

At a Monday court hearing, a district judge set bail for Mitchell-Abraham at $500,000 if she meets certain conditions set by the court. Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 19 and a trial has been set for May 7.

Police officers from Storm Lake, Iowa, and Mankato, Minn., assisted investigators from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on the case.

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