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Chisholm cold-case killing suspect seeks dismissal of indictment; prosecutors lay out alleged motive

Authorities will attempt to prove that Michael Carbo Jr. raped and killed Nancy Daugherty after she caught him peeping outside her house, but a judge must decide whether to allow other evidence of his alleged "voyeuristic proclivity of sexual motivations."

Michael Carbo
Michael Carbo
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VIRGINIA — The man charged with the 1986 rape and killing of Nancy Daugherty in Chisholm has renewed a bid to have his indictment tossed, while prosecutors have asked a judge to allow evidence of his alleged pattern of voyeurism and burglary.

Michael Allan Carbo Jr., 54, was arrested in July 2020 after a lengthy investigation into Daugherty's sexual assault, beating and strangulation at her Chisholm home.

Never a suspect until police contracted with a private company to analyze DNA samples and develop leads, Carbo is now facing the possibility of mandatory life imprisonment without parole after he was indicted by a Hibbing grand jury on two counts of first-degree murder last month.

But with a trial slated to begin in just three weeks, Judge Robert Friday must first rule on several key issues.

Defense: Carbo denied impartial grand jury

Friday in April denied a preliminary challenge to the indictment on procedural grounds. But defense attorney J.D. Schmid, having since received a full transcript of the grand jury proceedings, filed a new motion ahead of a hearing Wednesday in State District Court.


Among other claims, Schmid said prosecutors failed to account for potential bias on the part of panelists.

Nancy Daugherty
Nancy Daugherty

"Media publicity and community attention make it highly probable that most, if not all, of the grand jurors had been exposed to extrajudicial information about the case," he wrote. "The failure of the court or the prosecution to properly explore the potential bias created by such exposure deprived Mr. Carbo of his right to an unbiased grand jury."

Schmid additionally argued prosecutors "infringed upon the independence of the grand jury in three distinct ways."

The defense attorney said jurors were prevented from investigating whether evidence "was obtained through oppressive and unconstitutional government acts" as it relates to the use of DNA databases and the seizure of Carbo's personal trash.

He said prosecutors also failed to produce reports that were requested by the panel from the Chisholm Police Department regarding the day Daugherty's body was discovered.

Finally, Schmid said grand jurors requested follow-up testimony from several witnesses, but were encouraged by prosecutors to continue deliberations rather than suspend proceedings — resulting in the panel returning the indictment without additional questioning.
"These errors require dismissal of the indictment against Mr. Carbo, especially when considered in combination with the prosecution's failure to comply with (clerical requirements for the indictment) or ensure an unbiased grand jury," Schmid said.

But St. Louis County prosecutors Chris Florey and Jon Holets said the motion was "without merit and unsupported by the record of what occurred during the proceedings."

They said that Carbo produced "no specific instances to support his claim that the grand jurors were biased due to media coverage," and noted that panelists were asked about their knowledge of the case and relationships with any witnesses, resulting in the dismissal of one juror.


The prosecutors pointed out that the judge had already affirmed the constitutionality of the DNA and trash searches, and that it was not a matter for the grand jury's interpretation.

Finally, Florey and Holets said witnesses were brought before the panel as requested and that jurors were not prohibited from recessing if they desired to do so.

"Defendant fails to highlight any legitimate evidence that the grand jury decided additional witnesses were necessary after further deliberation," the prosecutors argued.

Judge Friday did not pose any specific questions regarding the motion, simply taking it under advisement.

Prosecutors: Carbo has history of peeping, burglarizing women's homes

Meanwhile, Florey and Holets brought a motion to introduce evidence of additional offenses that they said are relevant to their case against Carbo.

The prosecutors cited an incident between 1983 and 1985 in which Carbo was allegedly seen peeping on a teenage girl as she bathed at her Chisholm home.

The female, then a friend of Carbo's older sister, reported to police that she would hear noises outside the ground-level bathroom and her father eventually caught a male looking through a small gap in the window shade. But, when confronted, the perpetrator managed to slip out of his jacket and escape.

The incident was not reported at the time, and the woman only described it to Chisholm police days after Carbo's arrest for Daugherty's killing. The report indicates she believed Carbo was responsible because he reached out decades later over Facebook "saying he was sorry for what happened in the past."


Friday was skeptical of the request, saying he did not see "clear and convincing" evidence that Carbo was responsible for the peeping incident. He issued a preliminary denial, but said he would reconsider allowing it to be introduced if more definitive evidence was submitted.

The prosecutors are also seeking to introduce evidence of Carbo's convictions for burglaries in Hibbing and Chisholm in 1987 and 1989. Both cases involved ransacking women's dressers, according to old documents retrieved by the attorneys.

Florey and Holets said evidence of past actions would "help establish defendant's motive, intent, modus operandi and absence of mistake/accident."

"It's the state's theory that (Daugherty) somehow became aware of (Carbo's) presence outside her residence late at night," they wrote. "It is a logical inference that defendant could have been peeping in (her) windows, or the windows of her daughter's bedroom, much like he did at (the other teen's) residence prior to raping and murdering (Daugherty), revealing the sexual motivation of his presence at (Daugherty's) residence.

"No matter what, it is clear that both defendant and (Daugherty) were outside at the beginning of the attack leading to her rape and murder. Grass on (Daugherty's) back and clothing, the matted down area of grass outside the rear door of the residence and the screams of (Daugherty) conclusively show that this attack started outside."

As for the prior burglaries, the prosecutors said: "When viewed in concert, defendant's prior acts show a motive and intent to invade on the privacy of females; a voyeuristic proclivity of sexual motivations. Although macabre, defendant's actions with (Daugherty) was him successfully acting on those motivations and intentions)."

Schmid had yet to file a formal response to the prosecutors' motion, but argued at Wednesday's hearing that it should be denied in full.

He said the evidence would be more prejudicial to his client than useful to the jury's for purposes of understanding the current case. He also said prosecutors did not provide timely disclosure and notice of their intent to introduce the evidence.

Friday gave Schmid until May 20 to file a formal response, after which he said he would rule on the pending motions in writing.

A panel of 100 potential jurors is expected to be summoned to the Hibbing courthouse to begin filling out questionnaires on June 1. The trial may continue through June 24.

Carbo faces two counts of first-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit first- or second-degree criminal sexual conduct with force or violence, as well as a count of intentional second-degree murder.

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“We do not have any new information or leads on this case, and it is still considered open, but it’s obviously a cold case," Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson told the News Tribune recently.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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