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Guilty plea in Crookston stabbing death

A Crookston man pleaded guilty this week to murdering his father a year ago by stabbing him two dozen times in the apartment they shared. Jacob Abel, 28, faces up to 40 years in prison when he's sentenced in March.

Abel entered a guilty plea Wednesday to the lesser charge facing him: second-degree murder in the violent death of his father, Jerome Abel, Feb. 5, 2012, in their Crookston apartment.

The more serious charge of first-degree murder brought by a grand jury is expected to be dismissed in light of his plea, according to a Polk County court official.

The first-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; second-degree murder carries a top sentence of 40 years.

Abel is scheduled for sentencing March 15.

Covered in blood

Abel was accused of stabbing his father at least 24 times, leaving much of their apartment and himself covered in blood.

Police responding to a 911 call from the apartment building found Abel standing in the hallway holding a knife. He told police he "was going to be famous."

Neighbors told police Abel stood in the hallway outside the apartment for 10 minutes before police arrived, yelling that he had killed his father, swearing angrily about his father.

Inside, Jerome Abel, 58, was found lying face down in a pool of blood. During the autopsy, a physician found the tip of the knife in the victim's skull.

Abel told police he got angry at his father, went to the kitchen to get a knife and began stabbing him as he lay on a couch, overpowering his defensive moves. Police said there were more than 24 stab wounds to Jerome Abel's neck, head and hands.

At one of his first court appearances, Abel disrupted proceedings with a disjointed tirade, including apparently talking to himself.

"Look at me, I'm on a homicidal spree," he said with a laugh as he exited the court room after one appearance in February.

Proceedings were delayed last year while Abel's mental competence was evaluated. State District Judge Donald Aandal ruled last spring Abel was fit to go to trial.

He has remained in the Tri-County jail in Crookston under $500,000 bond.

Brother earlier disappeared

Jerome Abel's murder wasn't the first tragedy to strike his family.

On April 27, 2007, his older son -- and Jacob's older brother -- Josh Abel, 29, disappeared in Marshall County.

Investigators said his vehicle was found with the keys inside and gas in the tank on the family-owned farmstead near Stephen, Minn., where Jerome Abel grew up. A single set of footprints led away from the vehicle.

No trace of him has been found.

After Jerome Abel's murder, authorities said Jacob Abel had been cleared of any involvement in his brother's earlier disappearance and was at work the day he went missing.

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