Citing concerns of flight and public safety, District Judge Thomas Van Hon set an unconditional bail of $3 million for Andrew Dikken this past Thursday at the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse.
Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls and formerly of Renville, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the September shootings of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Chris Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.
According to a complaint report released Wednesday, September 18, Panitzke told police officers that Dikken gained entry to the house, turned on a light and opened fire on the pair without warning while they lay sleeping in Monson's bedroom around 3:00 a.m. Monson died at the scene while Panitzke passed several days later on September 8 at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Dikken, who is a former boyfriend of Monson's, was seen on video at a Casey's convenience store located just a few blocks away from the scene of the incident shortly after the shooting transpired. He became the subject of a 15-day manhunt that came to an end when family members, who had been cooperating with authorities, turned him over to the Renville County Sheriff's Office in Olivia.
According to the complaint, police also located the gun case of the firearm, believed to have been used to carryout the homicide, in Dikken's pick up truck. In addition, authorities found threatening text messages sent from Dikken's phone that indicated he was threatening Monson's life.
Escorted into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, Dikken sat just a few feet away from family and friends of the deceased but kept his head lowered throughout the proceedings, answering periodic questions from Judge Van Hon.
Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson requested the $3 million bail based on the “cold and calculated” nature of the crimes, stating “grave concern” that Dikken was a danger to the victim's families, himself and the community at large. He also stated that the flight risk was significant given that he had been out of the state prior to the incident and presently claimed to have no address.
Conversely, court appointed public defender Benjamin Pieh would ask for that the judge allow for conditions or lower the bail based on the idea Dikken was no longer dangerous nor a flight risk. He noted that during the 15 day manhunt, Dikken remained in the area and did not approach any family or friends of the victims. “I would argue there is no one left to be threatened,” he said.
The sentiment was not shared by Judge Van Hon who said that Dikken represented both a flight and public safety risk of “the highest degree.”
During a press conference held after the hearing Kara's mother, Patrice, stated that she never doubted that authorities would apprehend Dikken.
“I knew they'd find him. I knew that we'd see him again,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Patrice said that attending the hearing wasn't easy, but was worthwhile. “It was very difficult. But I am proud to say that I had the strength to be there because I would do anything for my daughter that was in her behalf and Chris's,” she said.
Asked how she would remember her daughter, Patrice responded, “She's a little girl that I raised, that once you met you never forgot.
“She was a beauty inside and out,” she continued. “She loved every walk of life. She had no prejudices and liked anybody and everybody. She was not a judgemental person. And it's wonderful to be a mother of a daughter such as her. She found the good in everyone, she really did. And I hope can help to teach her daughter to do the same thing.”
Patrice also sent out a thanks to the community for both the support and respect of privacy extended to to the family throughout the ordeal.
“We're still struggling,” she said. “It will take forever to get past this. But we're very strong and we are wanting the best.”
The charge of second-degree murder carries a possible maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. There is no word yet as to whether the county's attorney's office will look to convene a grand jury, which is required to bring an indictment for first-degree pre-meditated murder.
Dikken is being held at the Yellow Medicine County Jail. His next court appearance is Thursday, October 3 at the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse.
Two memorial funds have been established to preserve the memory of Kara Monson as well as benefit her daughter, Poppy.
All proceeds of the “Kara Monson Memorial Fund (at Granite Falls Bank)” will be directed by her immediate family. Donations can be made in person or checks can be sent to: Granite Falls Bank, “Kara Monson Memorial Fund”, 702 Prentice St., Granite Falls, MN 56241. Phone: (320) 564-2111.
All proceeds of the “Kara Monson Memorial Fund (at Citizens Alliance Bank)” will go to Kara's daughter. The fund was established in honor of Kara by the Yellow Medicine East Class of 1999 with Citizens Alliance Bank. Donations can be made in person or checks can be sent to: Citizens Alliance Bank, “Kara Monson Memorial Fund”, 860 Hwy. 212, P.O. Box 68, Granite Falls, MN 56241. Phone: (320) 564-4522.