Chisholm cold case homicide trial pushed back to August
A judge relented after a second request to postpone this month's trial following the discovery of dozens of decades-old interview tapes.
DULUTH — A judge has granted a two-month delay in the trial of a Chisholm man accused of raping and killing a woman in 1986.
Michael Allan Carbo Jr., 54, faces mandatory life imprisonment if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Nancy Daughtery, whose case remained open for 34 years until DNA evidence allegedly identified the perpetrator in 2020.
The long-scheduled trial had been put in limbo as a result of the recent discovery of a trove of previously unknown audio cassette tapes containing interviews conducted by local and state law enforcement in the 1980s and 1990s.
Defense attorney J.D. Schmid previously filed a motion to postpone this month's trial date and allow Carbo to be released from his $1 million bail setting, citing a violation of the state's requirement to disclose materials in a timely manner.
But Judge Robert Friday was initially reluctant to disturb the trial schedule. While finding that there was a violation of discovery rules, he deemed the infraction inadvertent and granted only a brief delay — from June 1-6 — but said he would consider a further delay if warranted after attorneys had an opportunity to listen to the tapes.
Schmid, in a subsequent filing, dropped his request for Carbo's release, but argued a continuance of at least two months was necessary "to allow the parties adequate time to complete production and review of discovery in this matter and ensure Mr. Carbo receives a fair trial."
Attorneys told the judge that they only recently became aware of the interview tapes — approximately 31 held by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and roughly 28 by the Chisholm Police Department — along with other previously unknown materials during routine review of evidence ahead of trial.
Schmid said a preliminary review of several tapes "has already uncovered avenues of additional investigation the defense must pursue before trial" and that additional reports, including some related to DNA testing, were still being provided on the eve of trial.
"The parties understand the court's concern with proceeding to trial as expeditiously as possible," Schmid wrote in the May 26 motion. "Both the state and defense share an interest in minimizing any delay. But the parties also share a concern that the court's brief continuance will not suffice to guarantee Mr. Carbo's constitutional rights, which in turn may threaten the fairness of his trial and the finality of the jury's verdict."
St. Louis County prosecutor Jon Holets said his office was prepared for trial, but conceded that Schmid's motion should be granted.
"While the state does not agree with every assertion in defendant's motion, the state agrees that, in the interests of fairness and to ensure that defendant and his counsel have adequate time to prepare, a continuance as outlined by defendant's motion his appropriate," Holets wrote.
Friday rescheduled the trial to begin with jury selection Aug. 1 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Hibbing. Testimony and arguments may continue through Aug. 19.
Carbo, 18 at the time of Daugherty's death, reportedly lived within a mile of the crime scene and had attended school with her two children. Daughtery was found sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled in July 1986, with police indicating there were signs of struggle both inside and outside the residence.
While hundreds of DNA samples were obtained over the years, it wasn't until Chisholm police contracted with a private company to compare crime scene DNA samples against those held in several genetic genealogy databases, resulting in his identification as a suspect.
A grand jury in April indicted Carbo on two counts of first-degree murder while committing criminal sexual conduct — charges carrying mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, if convicted. He also faces a count of intentional second-degree murder.