Suspects in double killings appear in court once again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2001

In what could be their last appearance in Mower County Third Judicial District Court, three murder suspects appeared at hearings Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

In what could be their last appearance in Mower County Third Judicial District Court, three murder suspects appeared at hearings Tuesday morning.

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David Kenneth Christian, 28, his brother, Scot Perry Christian, 30, and Vernon Neal Powers, 28, all of St. Paul, will be tried together, beginning May 14 for the June 30 robbery-killings at the Downtown Motel in Austin.

A four defendant, Jenea Larae-Nichol Weinand, 19, of St. Paul, will be tried separately. All four are charged with four counts of premeditated first-degree felony murder.

Juan Vincente Ramirez, 41, and Raul Pedro Guiterrez, 26, both of St. Paul, died of multiple gunshot wounds in the June 30 slayings.

Benjamin Moreno Hernandez, 20, suffered gunshot wounds, but recovered. A 14-year-old male cousin of Ramirez was unhurt.

David Kenneth Christian allegedly drove the getaway vehicle and Weinand allegedly told the men of a large amount of money kept by Ramirez and went to the Downtown Motel room where the St. Paul men, part of a roofing crew working in Austin at the time, were staying.

When the motel room door was answered, Scot Perry Christian and Powers allegedly burst in the room and demanded money. When the occupants refused, the robbers fired their weapons, killing two and wounding another.

They drove back to St. Paul, but were captured later June 30 and returned to Austin to face charges in District Court.

District Judge Donald E. Rysavy ordered a change of venue for the three suspects’ trial after defense attorneys – all court-appointed – complained of the extraordinary amount of media coverage given the robbery-slayings and jail escape.

The first day of the trial is scheduled May 14 with jury selection in a Dakota County district courtroom at Hastings.

On March 25, the three men suspects overpowered two detention officers in the Mower County Jail, broke an unbarred window with a golf club and jumped from the second-story window to the parking lot of the Austin-Mower County Law Enforcement Center.

David Kenneth Christian broke a leg in the fall to the pavement and was captured by Austin police officers at the scene.

His brother, Scot Perry Christian, and Powers ran to the Austin Elks Club and First Farmers & Merchants Bank parking lot nearby where Gabrielle Skye Holvick, 18 of Austin, was waiting in a car, police said.

Holvick allegedly drove the two escapees to the Medford Outlet Mall or Oakdale in the Twin Cities area. The location never was made clear by authorities before a gag order was imposed by Rysavy.

Holvick returned to Austin, where she was taken into custody and now faces charges of aiding the escape of the fugitives.

Powers and Scot Perry Christian were recaptured at an Oakdale residence and sent to the Oak Park Heights maximum security prison.

They have returned to Austin only for necessary court appearances

First-degree charges stemming from the March 25 escape of the three prisoners have been reduced to third-degree charges.

At Tuesday’s omnibus hearing, David Kenneth Christian’s attorney requested an evidentiary hearing in connection with the escape.

Scot Perry Christian, the most vocal of the three defendants, asked again for a new court-appointed attorney, claiming his current public defenders are "overworked" and cannot properly represent him. Rysavy denied the request.

He also asked that other law enforcement agencies be assigned to transport him from the maximum-security prison to Austin and later to Hastings for his trial. That request also was denied.

Powers entered a not-guilty plea to the escape charges and requested a jury trial. No date has been set for the trial on the escape charges.

Weinand and Holvick remain incarcerated at the Mower County Jail.