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Judge denies bail reduction in Swedberg murder case

A Becker County man charged in the murder of his business partner has been ordered to submit to fingerprinting and DNA testing.

Kenneth Eugene Andersen, 34, of 37997 280th Ave., Waubun, appeared in Becker County District Court Monday.

He is charged with felony second degree murder in the death of his friend, Chad Swedberg, 33, a rural Ogema man who was shot April 13 while processing maple sugar on his property.

District Judge Thomas Schroeder ordered Andersen to submit to fingerprinting and a DNA swab. There was no objection from defense attorney Rory Durkin, of Giancola Law Office in Anoka.

Andersen is being held in the Becker County Jail. Bail was set at $1 million at Andersen's arraignment June 20.

On Monday, Durkin called the state's case unconvincing and asked that bail be reduced to $100,000 or $200,000, with electronic monitoring if bail is posted.

"No disrespect to the Becker County Attorney's Office and Becker County law enforcement, but I've read a lot of complaints," Durkin told the judge. "They don't come much thinner than this complaint."

Durkin said Andersen had no reason to kill Swedberg.

"He has been working -- he worked in the pole barn business with the person he is accused of killing. The victim was not only his best friend, he was his hunting buddy, his drinking buddy, he was the godfather of his child ... there's absolutely no motive. There was no fighting (between the two men), there's no motive."

Just because they were "co-defendants in some (stolen) ATV case," that would only bring jail time, not prison time, and "that's no motive," he said.

Durkin also dismissed ballistics tests involving the Tikka 300 Winchester Short Magnum bolt-action rifle believed to be the murder weapon, and argued that Andersen is no flight risk, noting that he was born in Detroit Lakes, went to high school in Waubun, and has two children, a son and a daughter, for whom he plays child support.

"He has been in court for felony arson -- the maximum penalty for that is, I believe, 40 years -- and he never missed a day."

All in all, Durkin argued, "this case is weak and this complaint is thin -- I think $1 million is steep on this defendant, who has no history of violence."

Becker County Attorney Joe Evans disagreed, and said high bail was recommended in a bond study, and justified by the potential threat to public safety.

"The court has already made a ruling of probably cause, it should proceed on the assumption it's true," Evans said. "There is no more serious crime than taking a life." Andersen has failed to appear in court on lesser charges in other counties, and does represent a flight risk, he argued.

Schroeder denied the bail reduction request.

An omnibus hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 17.