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Plea deal possible for Duluth murder defendant

A plea agreement is on the table for the 63-year-old man accused of killing Lisa Jean Isham at her Duluth home last May. Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jessica Fralich said Wednesday that she has extended an offer to defendant William James ...

1904936+William James Holisky new mug.jpg
William Holisky

A plea agreement is on the table for the 63-year-old man accused of killing Lisa Jean Isham at her Duluth home last May.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jessica Fralich said Wednesday that she has extended an offer to defendant William James Holisky II, who is charged with second-degree murder in Isham's stabbing death.

Holisky will have just a few days to act, as the offer - the exact terms of which were not disclosed - is set to expire on Monday, Fralich said during a brief hearing in State District Court in Duluth

Public defender Jeremy Downs had said in December that Holisky would seek to have the charge dismissed due to a lack of probable cause, but attorneys indicated Wednesday that additional evidence produced in recent months led to the plea negotiations.

Isham, 52, was found dead in her home at 116 Fir Ave., just off the 1700 block of West First Street, on May 30. The criminal charges indicate that she had been stabbed numerous times with a knife, apparently about two weeks before her body was discovered.

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Police said they found personal belongings at the residence to link Holisky to the killing, but in interviews he denied any involvement. He did acknowledge that they had been romantically involved.

In July, police received results of a DNA test on the knife. The test showed that Holisky and Isham were both possible contributors to the DNA mixture, and 99.98 percent of the general population could be ruled out, according to the charges.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Holisky - who has numerous prior convictions in cases involving violence against women - faces a maximum of 40 years in prison.

Holisky has not formally entered a plea and retains the right to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, if he chooses to reject the plea offer.

Judge Mark Munger scheduled Holisky's next court appearance for March 7.

Related Topics: CRIME
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 tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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