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Granite Falls murder suspect held on $3 million bail

GRANITE FALLS — District Judge Thomas Van Hon set bail at $3 million and would allow no conditions for Andrew Dikken’s release at a lesser amount during the double homicide suspect’s first court appearance Thursday morning in Granite Falls.

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Judge Van Hon cited concerns for public safety and the risk of flight in setting the bail, believed to be the highest ever in a Yellow Medicine County case.

Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls and formerly of Renville, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the Sept. 2 shootings of Kara Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Chris Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Monson died at the scene of the shooting in her home, and Panitzke died Sept. 8 at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

A courtroom filled with family and friends of the two victims, as well as members of Dikken’s family, watched as Granite Falls police officers escorted the shackled defendant into the courtroom.

Dikken had been the focus of a 15-day manhunt after the shooting. He was taken into custody Tuesday after he showed up at his parents’ home in Renville and they turned him in to the Renville County Sheriff’s Office.

“The state doesn’t believe any conditions would alleviate the danger to public safety,” Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson said in asking for unconditional bail at $3 million.

The prosecutor cited what he termed “cold and calculated actions” by Dikken, who is accused of shooting Monson and her boyfriend, Panitzke, as they slept. Dikken and Monson had a previous relationship.

Helgeson said there were “grave concerns” that Dikken poses a threat to the surviving family of the victims, as well as the public. The fact that he eluded law officers for 15 days made him an obvious flight risk, he told the judge.

Attorney Benjamin Pieh, with the public defender’s office, asked for a lower bail with conditions, telling the judge that Dikken did not pose a threat to the public or of flight. While acknowledging that Dikken had “disappeared” for 15 days, he stated that the defendant chose to stay in the area. “He could have gone further. He remained in the area.”

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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