One of two male suspects in a fatal West Duluth shooting pleaded not guilty Monday and has demanded a speedy trial.
Christopher Floyd Boder, 32, is charged with aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder in the Sept. 22 death of Timothy Jon Nelson. Court documents state that Nelson was gunned down during a confrontation after allegedly attempting to rob Boder earlier that evening.
Also charged with murder is 39-year-old James Michael Peterson. Authorities have not clearly identified which man is suspected of pulling the trigger.
Boder already was scheduled to stand trial July 14. But a speedy trial demand from defense attorney Jeremy Downs prompted 6th Judicial District Judge Leslie Beiers to move it up to April 21.
The trial date is, of course, subject to any further order from the Minnesota Judicial Branch in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, any cases deemed "super high" or "high" priority, as well as those involving speedy trial demands, were continuing as scheduled. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended halting any gathering of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks — a number that can easily be surpassed during jury selection in major cases.
Under Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, a speedy trial demand requires that "the trial must start within 60 days unless the court finds good cause for a later trial date." If the trial does not start within 120 days of a not-guilty plea, the defendant must be released from custody with non-monetary conditions, "unless exigent circumstances exist."
Charging documents in the cases heavily cite the account of a woman who told police she was driven to Boder's residence by Nelson because she wanted to purchase some methamphetamine. The woman told police Nelson suddenly attempted to rob Boder while brandishing a BB gun.
Nelson left the scene in his vehicle, but told the woman by phone that he would return "and they would take care of everything," according to the criminal complaints. The woman said Boder was joined by Peterson, who was armed with a rifle, and they dropped her off at a Proctor gas station.
The woman later received Facebook messages from Peterson indicating "something bad had happened," according to court documents. He allegedly told her he "did something 'f----ed up.'" Asked by the woman if Nelson was dead, Peterson reportedly responded: "He still had a pulse when we walked away."
Police also spoke with a neighboring resident who told officers that she overheard an argument outside with someone yelling, "Give it to me! Give it to me! I know you f---ing got it!" A second voice responded, "I don't got it!" The resident then heard a gunshot, according to the complaints.
Nelson was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Police said they found an empty rifle case in the search of the house the defendants shared, along with an unspent 7.62 round similar to a casing found by an investigator near Nelson's truck.
Peterson has asked a judge to prohibit the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension from moving forward with testing of a DNA sample drawn from a cartridge casing recovered by police. BCA scientists have indicated that the process would fully consume the sample, preventing any further tests. A hearing on that issue is currently scheduled for March 23.
Both defendants' girlfriends also are facing felony charges in connection with the investigation. Peterson's girlfriend, 29-year-old Amber Rose Louise Forrest, is accused of tampering with the scene of a search warrant while Boder's girlfriend, 27-year-old Taylor Ann Fredrickson, allegedly provided a false alibi to police. Both have hearings scheduled for March 30.