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Suspect in Superior shooting waives extradition from Minnesota

The Arizona man charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the fatal shooting of a Duluth man in Superior last week waived extradition today and will be picked up at the St. Louis County Jail by Douglas County authorities to face charges i...

Juan Leonardo Padilla
Juan Leonardo Padilla

The Arizona man charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the fatal shooting of a Duluth man in Superior last week waived extradition today and will be picked up at the St. Louis County Jail by Douglas County authorities to face charges in Superior.

Juan Leonardo Padilla, 41, of Fort Mohave, Ariz., is accused of shooting Terence Rodney Luukkonen, 46, of Duluth as the victim sat in his car in the parking lot of Genesis Attachments in Superior, where he worked as a purchasing director. Luukkonen was found about 12:20 p.m. Thursday with a gunshot wound to his head and was pronounced dead at a Duluth hospital.

Padilla appeared before Judge Sally Tarnowski in State District Court in Duluth and waived extradition. The defendant was represented at the hearing by Northeastern Minnesota Chief Public Defender Fred Friedman and Northwestern Wisconsin Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill Jr., who advised him of his rights in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In a phone interview after the hearing, Friedman said he has had several interviews with Padilla and met with the defendant at the St. Louis County Jail on Saturday. Friedman said that Padilla told him he was a decorated service member who spent 20 years in the Army, including tours of combat duty in Bosnia and during Desert Storm. He said the defendant told him he grew up in Queens, N.Y., and attended high school in a Long Island suburb.

He said he attended a community college in Arizona and worked in that state as a police officer on an Indian reservation.

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Friedman said he was helping Padilla get the cell phone numbers of his family members from the defendant's cell phone that was seized by law enforcement.

Superior police said Padilla has two harassment convictions from New York from 1998. Police said Padilla was employed as a police officer in Fort Mohave, Ariz. The Mohave Valley Daily News reported Friday that Padilla was terminated as an officer with the Fort Mojave Tribal Police in 2009 for "failure to meet standards."

"All I can say is that he is soft-spoken and very courteous," Friedman said. "I did not ask him whether he was involved or not in this tragic death. It's a Wisconsin matter, not a Minnesota matter, which is why Pat O'Neill was there."

Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank said today that it's possible that Padilla could appear in Douglas County Circuit Court on Thursday.

Padilla was being held in the St. Louis County Jail after being arrested at 6 p.m. Thursday by the Duluth Police Department's Tactical Response Team at the Allyndale Motel in West Duluth, where he had been staying.

Superior police say Padilla had been involved with the victim's fiancée and once told the woman he couldn't live without her and wanted to kill the man she was with. The woman told police she met Padilla in Arizona two years ago and the two had been acquaintances since then.

According to the woman, she met Padilla in 2011 in Arizona and a relationship developed. She said she made occasional visits there to be with him. She knew he had a military and police background and owned a handgun, the complaint states.

Related Topics: CRIME
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