Suspects arraigned on charges of jail escape

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2001

Friday, April 06, 2001

Three suspects in last summer’s double killings at an Austin motel were arraigned today in Mower County Third Judicial District court on escape charges.

Vernon Neal Powers, 28, and Scot Perry Christian, 30, both of St. Paul, appeared in court with defense attorneys.

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David Kenneth Christian, 28, is having surgery today at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester for a broken leg suffered in a fall from a second-story window at the Mower County Jail March 25. His attorney, Barry V. Voss of Minneapolis, participated via a conference telephone call made by Judge Donald Rysavy from the bench Friday morning.

Voss asked for a continuance of the murder trial moved to Hastings in Dakota County on a change of venue. Rysavy denied the request and it will start as scheduled May 14.

No further pretrial hearings are scheduled in Mower County District Court at this time. All other matters will be considered the morning of May 14 and before jury selection begins, according to Rysavy.

Scott Perry Christian asked that a new public defender be appointed to defend him, but that request was denied. It is the second time a request from the defendant for new representation has been denied.

Chester Swenson, an Albert Lea public defender representing Powers, requested an omnibus hearing be schedule for his client within 28 days.

Public defenders Richard J. Smith and Rachel M. Drenckpohl, both of Rochester, entered a plea of not guilty to the escape charges for their client and requested an omnibus hearing.

Voss joined in the petition for an omnibus hearing for his client, David Kenneth Christian.

The trio, plus Jenea Larae-Nichol Weinand, 19, of St. Paul, are charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of two St. Paul men at the Downtown Motel in Austin on June 30. A third man was wounded in the robbery-killing crimes.

On March 25, the Christian brothers and Powers overpowered two detention officers in the Mower County Jail and made their escape by jumping to the Austin-Mower County Law Enforcement Center parking lot below.