After bring continued twice because of the weather, two motion hearings were finally able to be discussed in Watonwan County Court on Friday, March 22.  The hearings were in the case against Scott Engelbrecht, who is being charged with two counts of first degree murder from an incident that occurred on June 16, 2018.
State Attorney Miller noted on the record that Dillion Mathias was in the courtroom.  Attorney Steve Bergeson asked for him to be excluded from the motion hearing because he may be a future witness.  The judge agreed and asked Mathias to leave.
The state called Jonathan LeClaire, the first arriving police officer, up to the stand.  LeClaire is a member of the St. James Police Department.  
The defense interrupted at this point and wanted the change of venue motion dealt with first, as Attorney Bergeson was there remotely, and wanted to get that motion done.
The judge decided to finish the witness testimony and then they would address the change of motion venue.
LeClaire’s testimony stated that he has been part of the St. James Police Department for two years.  He was on the afternoon shift on June 16, 2018.  Around 5:45 PM, there was a call from dispatch.  The call came from 1124 1st Avenue South, and the report from the call was that a grandfather shot a grandmother.  LeClaire responded and activated the recorder on his police vehicle.  The vehicle was also equipped with a front camera.
When LeClaire arrived at the scene, he testified that he saw a male walking east towards 1124 1st Avenue South with a rifle.  He repeated told the man to drop the gun.  He was initially 30-40 years away from the man, and started closing in.  He had pulled his service handgun, but he had not pointed it at the man.  The man looked at LeClaire and placed the rifle against a tree.  LeClaire made contact with the man and put him in handcuffs.
LeClaire then asked the man what was going on.  According to LeClaire’s testimony, LeClaire couldn’t remember exactly what he said but he testified he said something to the effect of “I shot her”, or “I did it”.  
The man then pulled several 22 caliber shells out of his pocket.  He placed them on the driveway.  He was then placed in the squad car.  Officer LeClaire testified that the man was not identified at the time, but would be identified later as Scott Engelbrecht.
The squad video and transcript of the audio was presented to the court and determined to be exhibit 1 and 1a.
The change of venue motion was then addressed.  The court had received the reasoning from the defense, including the cost to do a survey of potential jurors, the media coverage, the size of the community, and the deep roots both their client and the victims have to the community.  The defense argued that it would be better to change the venue now, rather than not being able to find an appropriate amount of jurors during jury selection.  If they have to move it at that time, everything would have to be done in haste in the new county.  The state rebutted that they didn’t see the need, and only change if the jury pool can’t be found.
The judge took everything under advisement and returned to the testimony.
Seven minutes and thirty-seven seconds of video from the squad car dash cam was then shown in court.  The video showed the drive to the scene, but the camera was positioned in a way that no video was seen from the scene, only audio.  Shortly after the arrival on the scene, you could hear someone yelling “drop the gun, drop the gun!”.  The ambulance arrived at the very end of the video.
Officer LeClaire got asked a few more questions.  He testified that Dillion was on the back deck, and was upset.  He was concerned about his mom.  Officer LeClaire told Dillion to stay outside while he went inside.  He found the victim with a bullet hole in the forehead and one on the left side.  The EMTs took over from there, and removed her from the scene.
The defense made an objection that this testimony wasn’t relevant to the suppression motion, but it was denied.
Officer LeClaire continued his testimony about finding the second body, that of Rachel Linder.  Other law enforcement, including the Chief of Police, were at the scene by this time.  Police Chief Rick Eisfeld transferred Scott Engelbrecht to the jail.  Officer LeClaire testified that he did not have a conversation with Scott Engelbrecht.
The defense was given a chance to cross-examine  Officer LeClaire.  They questioned what LeClaire heard from Engelbrecht when he first arrived at the scene.  LeClaire noted it was a spontaneous utterance, something like “I shot her”, or “I did it”.
The second witness for the prosecution was Special Agent Michael Anderson, from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-Mankato Office.  His testimony started off by noting he has been in police work since 1991, and was hired by the Minnesota BCA in March 2006 for homicide investigation in Southern Minnesota.  He was called in by the St. James Police Department to originally assist in the investigation, starting by securing the crime scene and working on a search warrant.  He testified that Scott Engelbrecht by the afternoon of June 16.  He had received information from the St. James Police Department on what they do.  
Agent Anderson would conduct his first interview with Scott Engelbrecht the night of June 16, 2018 at 8:55 PM at the St. James Law Enforcement Center.  Also present at that interview was Derek Woodford, Special Agent from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-Marshall Office.  This interview was recorded and entered as Exhibit 2 in the motion hearing, with the transcript of the interview being entered as 2A.  
Agent Anderson testified that he identified himself to Scott Engelbrecht for this interview.  Engelbrecht was under detention at this time and not free to leave.
The video was played in court.  The timestamp on the video noted 10:51 PM.  The video starts with the Miranda Rights being read to Engelbrecht.  Engelbrecht’s response was “I’m dizzy”.  Agent Anderson responded with “Just relax.  Everything is safe here.  You are safe here”.  Water was then accepted to Scott Engelbrecht which he took.  Engelbrecht noted that he didn’t feel good, and one of the agents asked him if he was shaking before they came up.  Engelbrecht responded with “The whole time I was here”.  He also noted that he had no feeling in his hands or his feet.  From there, the agents had an EMT come up to make sure Engelbrecht was doing okay.  They checked his blood pressure, hands, and feet.  The interview was discontinued from there.  
The defense had a chance to cross-examine at this time.  They put the record that at no time during the interview, did Engelbrecht acknowledge that he understood his Miranda Rights.  Agent Anderson confirmed that was correct.
The next interview by Special Agents Anderson and Woodford were conducted around 6:41 AM on Sunday morning, June 17.  The DVD and transcript for this interview were put on the record as Exhibits 3 and 3a.  
The agents started this interview with basic questions, such as middle name, address, date of birth, and where Engelbrecht works.  They said they were here to “get your side of the story”, and not here to “interrogate or pass judgment”.  They read the Miranda Rights and asked Engelbrecht if he understood.  Engelbrecht responded with “I think so”.  
After a few more basic questions, they asked Engelbrecht “are you married?”.  Engelbrecht’s response was “I don’t think so”.  When asked if he had children, he responded no.  When asked who does he live with, he said just myself.  
The Special Agents then asked a lot of questions about Engelbrecht’s work, including what he does for work and what shifts he has.  The interview was stopped in the courtroom at this point, although it was noted that it went on for another 50 minutes.
In cross-examination, Agent Anderson was asked if Mr. Engelbrecht indicated a lack of memory of June 16 during this interview.   Agent Anderson’s response was “Yes, he did”.
The last interview to be played was the one that took place on Monday, June 18, around 9L25 AM.  This interview would be shown in its entirety and lasted 1 hour and 41 minutes.  It was entered as Exhibit 4 with the transcript being entered aa Exhibit 4a.
The final interview started off with basic questions, and then the Miranda Rights were read.  They asked Engelbrecht if he understood and he said yes.  They then asked “Having the rights in mind, are you willing to speak?”  Engelbrecht responded “Okay asking a couple of questions”.  He was then asked “Do you remember Rachel?”, to which Engelbrecht replied “Joyce’s daughter”.  It was then established that Joyce and his dad lived at the home.  There were then a couple questions asked about house addresses and who lived and visited where.
The agents noted that after tragic events, people do have dramatic memory loss, but told Engelbrecht it “Seems like you want to be difficult”.  They then asked Engelbrecht “you’re not some bad guy, you’re not some criminal, why did this event happen?”  Engelbrecht responded “I’m just confused”.  
More clarification was made about who lived where, and it was finally determined that Rachel was living in a place that Engelbrecht owned, and was not expected to pay rent.  She  visit the Engelbrecht at their home a lot as well.
They then proceeded to go over the timeline of what happened on Saturday.  Engelbrecht responded that he came home and sat in a chair.  He was sick with a cold and fever.  He took so DayQuil and had supper.  He didn’t remember anything beyond that until he found himself in a squad car.
They asked Engelbrecht how his marriage had been and he responded “stressful”.  They asked him if he got along with Rachel and he responded “pretty much”.  They asked him if there was any reason he would be angry with her and he responded “no”.  
They asked about the gun situation in the house, and it was established that Scott didn’t own any, but Joyce got a pistol for her birthday, and his dad owned a 22 and 410 that were kept in the basement closet.  Engelbrecht was asked the last time he touched those guns and he said “month”. When asked if he touched them two days ago, he said he was unsure.  They mentioned he was seen holding a rifle on Saturday, which there was no audible comment to.  
It was then established by Engelbrecht that he had temper problems in the past.  He noted he was not upset with Joyce.  One of the agents responded that something happened on Saturday that got him upset and he had an argument with Joyce.  They then asked what got him so upset.  At this point on the dvd, Engelbrecht began crying.
Engelbrecht eventually responded “It doesn’t make sense”.  They asked a couple question about getting the rifle that weren’t responded to.  They then asked “you love Joyce, right?”, in which Engelbrecht responded “yeah”.  They asked about loving Rachel and Engelbrecht responded “she’s like a daughter”, and with Dillion, “he’s like a grandson”.  
The agents mentioned “Dillion is hurt, kind of lost.  Joyce is gone.  Rachel is gone.  You are gone because you can’t be there for him.”  They then said “It is important for Dillion for you to be as honest as possible.”  
They went on the say “The measure of a man is not how he make mistakes, but how he handles it afterwards.  If he does the right thing after the mistakes, and is sorry”.  
The focus went back to the rifle, as they asked Engelbrecht if he had ever shot the 22 rifle of his dad’s, and he responded yes.  Engelbrecht was also affirmative when asked if he remembered that he could only shoot one round at a time with it, and that he would have to load it each time.  Engelbrecht said he did not remember having a pocketful of 22 shells that Saturday, or talking to the police officer.  He only remembered getting into the police car.
The conversation went back to Rachel, when it was discovered that Engelbrecht was upset with the way Rachel was taking care of the house that he owned.  It was unclear in the testimony exactly what happened, but it was mentioned that Engelbrecht had only found out about it a couple of weeks earlier.
Basic questioning continued for the next 15 minutes, when the agents brought Engelbrecht’s dad into the conversation.  It was discovered that he was now being taken care of in the hospital, and the agents told Engelbrecht that they wanted to tell his dad that even though his son made a mistake, he is a good man and was taking responsibility.  
Once again, Engelbrecht starting crying and they asked him if he remembered shooting Joyce in the head, to which he said no.  They asked him if he denied it and there was no answer.  He was asked in the same way about going after Rachel at the other house, in which he responded no, but didn’t give an answer when asked if he denied it.  Engelbrecht than said “I’ve done so much for her{Rachel}, I love her very much.”
From there, Engelbrecht asked if Joyce was dead, and they told him she was.  He then asked “How is Rachel?”, and he was told that she was dead as well.  They brought Dillion back into the conversation and Engelbrecht noted how he wished he could help him.  The agents said the only way he could help Dillion was by being totally honest.  After a long pause, Engelbrecht said “I’m sorry”.  The agents responded, “What are you sorry for, Scott?”.  After a long pause the agent said “You just don’t remember shooting Joyce or shooting Rachel?”.  After another long pause, Engelbrecht repeated, “I’m sorry”.  
The video ended with the questions “What are you sorry for, Scott?”, which didn’t receive a reply.  They then asked do you think that Joyce deserved to be shot, which Engelbrecht responded with a strong “no”, and the same response when they asked if he thought Rachel deserved to be shot.
In cross-examining Agent Anderson, the defense brought up that when Engelbrecht was asked if he understood his Miranda Rights, he replied “I think so”, and it was clarified that he was never asked what he meant by “I think so”.  They also brought up that  a way of encouraging Engelbrecht to recall happened was using the term “measure of a man”.  This was used multiple times.  
The state rested their response to the motion on whether the testimony shown in court can be used in the trial.  The defense will file a brief for this motion by April 22, in which time the state has until April 29 to file theirs in response.  These will be for both the change of venue motion, as well as the suppression motion.
All people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.