Lawyer wants murder charged dropped

Published 9:39am Thursday, January 24, 2013

ALBERT LEA — The lawyer of convicted murderer Chad Jamie Gulbertson on Wednesday asked a Freeborn County District Court judge to vacate his client’s first-degree murder conviction.

Gulbertson, 41, of Albert Lea, was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse of ex-girlfriend Jody Lee Morrow. He was also found guilty of second-degree intentional murder, and second-degree murder while violating an order for protection.

Morrow, 38, was discovered dead in her trailer at 730 Larimore Circle on June 21, 2009, after Gulbertson reportedly went to police and said he thought he killed his ex-girlfriend. She died from blunt-force injuries to the head, receiving at least 18 blows with a hammer, and also had three stab wounds with a knife.

Bradford Colbert, a state public defender, on Wednesday argued prosecutors did not show sufficient evidence of a past pattern of domestic abuse by Gulbertson toward Morrow, which is required for the first-degree conviction.

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Bill Klumpp said prosecutors showed several instances of domestic abuse by Gulbertson and noted that while Morrow was “somewhat quarrelsome” herself, it was Gulbertson’s behavior that the jury was looking at.

Colbert argued that calls to police from prior domestic disturbances came from both Gulbertson and Morrow.

“Morrow and Gulbertson had a volatile relationship, but it was volatile in both directions,” he said, noting that both pushed, shoved and made threats.

He also argued that prior testimony Morrow made when she applied for an order for protection from Gulbertson should not have been admitted in court.

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Bill Klumpp said it did not matter whether Morrow herself had previous instances of abuse toward Gulbertson, and said the conviction looked solely at Gulbertson’s behavior.

He said Gulbertson injured Morrow several times, and also noted she was wheelchair-bound at the time of her death.

Gulbertson initially argued that he killed Morrow in a “heat of passion,” but toward the end of the trial testified that two other people committed the murder, and that he was an eye witness.

A judge has 90 days to issue a ruling.

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