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Murder defendant asks court for public defender


Fri, Nov 22nd, 2002
Posted in Features

Joseph Allen Folkert, charged with second degree murder in the death of Clarence Paulson, appeared in Fillmore County District Court on Monday, November 18, for a Rule 8 hearing.

Paulson was found dead at his rural Pilot Mound farm on October 21. The Fillmore County Coroner ruled that autopsy tests showed that Paulson died from blunt force injuries. Folkert was later found to have attempted to cash two checks written on Paulson’s checking account at area banks.

On Monday in court, Judge Robert Benson granted Folkert’s request for a public defender to represent him. At that time, Folkert also asked the court to reduce bail, set at $1 million.

“I haven’t been able to post bail because of the large amount,” Folkert told Judge Benson. “All I want to do is go home.”

Folkert told the court that he had 120 acres of corn in the field and has been unable to harvest it.

“I don’t have a criminal record and no other charges against me have been proven,” Folkert said.

Brent Wartner, Assistant Attorney General, representing the state, asked the court to uphold the conditions of bail at $1 million because of public safety reasons.

“The defendant told the court last time that he was an independent business owner. Today he’s a farmer,” Wartner told the court.

Judge Benson denied Folkert’s request for a bail reduction, noting that the court still has concerns about public safety and his re-appearance in court if released.

Benson told Folkert that once he has an attorney representing him he could request a hearing regarding the conditions of his release. Benson also asked the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department to assist Folkert in making contact with someone who could harvest Folkert’s crops.

Benson set an Omnibus hearing for December 6.

Fillmore County Attorney Matt Opat told the Journal that a grand jury could be called within the next month to consider a first degree murder indictment in the case. Opat said that his office is trying to arrange witnesses, crime evidence and schedules.

“Once we give the court first notice, we have 14 days from which to convene a grand jury,” Opat said. “We expect that this will take place within the next month.”

If convicted of first degree murder, Folkert could face life imprisonment.

On Tuesday, the Journal learned that Rochester Public Defender Fred Suhler had been appointed to represent Folkert.

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