Will convene grand jury for charges of first degree murder

The Yellow Medicine County attorney's office has turned down Andrew Joseph Dikken's petition to plead guilty on two counts of second-degree murder and instead will seek to convene a grand jury that will allow the prosecution to bring first-degree murder charges and seek a life-sentence. Dikken, 28, of Renville, had been charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the September 2 shootings of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Chris Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls. YMC Attorney Keith Helgeson stated the prosecution's intentions to convene a grand jury during the continuation of an arraignment hearing presided over by District 8 Judge Thomas Van Hon at the YMC Courthouse Wednesday morning. The proceedings were over and done with in several minutes. At the conclusion of the hearing a bearded Dikken was escorted from the court room but not before staring down and winking at family and friends of the victims. Once in jury room, he continued to look upon them and snicker. According to a complaint report, Panitzke told police officers that Dikken gained entry to the Monson household, turned on a light and opened fire on the pair as they lay sleeping. Monson died at the scene while Panitzke passed several days later on September 8. Dikken had previously petitioned to enter a plea guilty on two counts of second-degree murder, according to a motion filed at the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse on Wednesday, October 16. Each second-degree murder count carries a maximum possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison. According to the petition, the minimum jail sentence that the court could have imposed on Dikken for both charges was 632 months or 52-and-a-half years imprisonment. Even if he were able to reduce his prison time by one-third through good behavior, Dikken would have had to spend a minimum of 35 years behind bars. He remains in custody at the Yellow Medicine County Jail where he is being held on $3 million bail.