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Folkert pleads guilty to 2nd degree murder


Fri, Mar 21st, 2003
Posted in Features

Stating that “it is beyond my comprehension that a person could commit this kind of offense,” Fillmore County District Court Judge Robert Benson sentenced Joseph Allen Folkert, 22, to 40 years in prison on Friday for the murder of 95 year old Clarence Paulson. Folkert must serve a minimum of 26 years in prison and will be ordered to pay any restitution.

Judge Benson accepted a plea agreement between the state and defense where Folkert pled guilty to intentional murder in the second degree. It was also agreed that there would be an upward departure in sentencing from 333 months in prison to 480 months. As part of the plea agreement, three counts of first degree murder were dismissed.

According to Folkert’s testimony in court, he was introduced to Clarence Paulson in the spring of 2002 and heard that Clarence had a lot of money. Last fall, desperate for money after forging checks in Wisconsin and Wabasha County, Folkert went to Paulson’s farm in Pilot Mound Township on the night of October 20 with the intent to steal money and blank checks.

Folkert told the court that he knocked on Paulson’s door and when there was no answer broke a window in order to gain entry through the door. Folkert then used a flashlight to search the living room for cash and blank checks.

Folkert said that Paulson surprised him in the living room, carrying a metal pipe. The defendant then overpowered Paulson and struck him “eight to ten times in the upper body, around the head.” He then dragged Paulson’s body to the barn and hid it under some hay. Folkert left with $500 in cash as well as blank checks on Paulson’s account.

Under examination from Defense Attorney Fred Suhler, Folkert told the court that he had previously been hospitalized in a mental institution for nine days and had walked away from a day treatment program last summer. At the time of the murder, Folkert was not taking his medication and had used alcohol.

Prior to sentencing, Folkert told that court that he was “sorry for what had happened.” None of the victim’s family chose to address the court at sentencing.

In choosing an upward departure to 480 months, Judge Benson noted the age of the victim, the cruelty to which he was treated and the efforts by Folkert to conceal the body.

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