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Duluth man representing himself in murder trial to take witness stand

Joshua Lee Littlewolf plans to take the stand in his own defense this morning. Littlewolf, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Joshua Olson. Olson, 28, was found stabbed to death at the Frances Skinner Apartments in downtown ...

Joshua Lee Littlewolf
Joshua Lee Littlewolf, 43, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, for the 2012 murder of Joshua Olson.

Joshua Lee Littlewolf plans to take the stand in his own defense this morning.

Littlewolf, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Joshua Olson. Olson, 28, was found stabbed to death at the Frances Skinner Apartments in downtown Duluth in April 2012.

Littlewolf is representing himself at the trial, now beginning its third week. The stress and frustration of representing himself has gotten the better of him on occasion.

"If they find me guilty, they find me guilty. I don't care anymore," he said late Monday afternoon after the judge upheld an objection by prosecutor Nate Stumme on a question Littlewolf asked a defense witness. The jury was not in the courtroom at the time.

Littlewolf has complained several times that he is not getting a fair trial. He's sworn in the courtroom several times -- at least once when the jury was present. Much of his frustration has come after Judge Shaun Floerke has upheld prosecution objections to Littlewolf's questions on the grounds of hearsay.

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Littlewolf told Floerke Monday that his testimony will include many of the items he couldn't bring up before, including attempts Monday to get parts of two police interviews played in the presence of jurors.

"Not going to happen," Floerke responded, saying that hearsay rules apply to Littlewolf's testimony.

Littlewolf has said someone else killed Olson, and that witnesses are confusing him with Nakota Benjamin, who rented the apartment where Olson died.

But Littlewolf also told police investigators he slashed Olson's throat after Olson stepped on his ankle as he was lying on the floor. Monday -- again when the jury was out of the room -- he said he made admissions, even made things up, to police so as to get information from them.

"I stuck my own foot in my own mouth and now it's biting me in the rear," he told Floerke while arguing over a prosecution objection.

After several outbursts last Tuesday, Littlewolf wore orange jail clothing, handcuffs, leg iron and a connecting chain in court last week. Monday he arrived in court dressed in street clothes and requested that his restraints be removed, a request Floerke granted before the jury entered.

Littlewolf called several witnesses Monday, including one whose testimony he had on several occasions called crucial to proving his case. Sally Woundedeye was partying with others in the apartment where Olson died.

Surveillance video shows her leaving the building at 7:53 a.m. Authorities believe Olson died between 2 and 3 a.m.

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The video shows Littlewolf leaving the building about 3:08 a.m. He has said he left before Olson died.

Testifying in a quiet voice and crying at times, Woundedeye told how she and Olson were invited to the apartment by Littlewolf and a friend. She describe how Littlewolf, armed with a knife, and Olson got into an altercation at some point. After she and another woman present told them not to fight, Littlewolf gave the knife to Woundedeye, who put it in the kitchen sink.

After that, Woundedeye, who had been drinking all day, testified she went to sleep.

Under cross-examination by Stumme, Woundedeye testified that she later heard arguing. When she woke up in the morning, she saw another man sleeping in the apartment and Olson against a wall.

"I said 'Josh, I'm going to head out ... but he didn't move,'" Woundedeye testified. "I knew something was wrong because he didn't move."

Woundedeye testified she saw a knife by Olson's head.

After Woundedeye left, Benjamin called 911 and reported that he woke up to discover Olson's body.

Another person who was also partying in the apartment before Olson's death also testified Monday. Under questioning by Littlewolf, Jolene Herron said she had told police that Benjamin had gone to the kitchen to get a knife during a fight. Under cross-examination by Stumme, she said that fight happened about two hours before she left the apartment around 11:42 p.m.

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Later in the day, Duluth Police Officer Robert Hurst testified he was directed to arrest Benjamin on the day Olson's body was found. A charge of intentional second-degree murder against Benjamin was dropped in September 2012.

According to court documents, the charge against Benjamin was dismissed because "As the investigation continued, various forms of evidence developed, including recent results of scientific testing, such that the interests of justice require a dismissal of charges against Mr. Benjamin."

It's likely that testimony in the trial will finish today and closing arguments will be made Wednesday morning, with the jury beginning deliberations later that day.

Related Topics: CRIME
Steve Kuchera is a retired Duluth News Tribune photographer.
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