Weather Forecast


Five jurors picked, four dismissed in Ken Andersen murder trial -- jury selection to continue Tuesday

Jury selection begin Monday in the murder trial of Ken Andersen of rural Waubun.

By the end of the day, attorneys from both sides had agreed on five jurors and four more had been excused from service.

Andersen, 34, was indicted by a Becker County grand jury in September for first-degree, premeditated homicide in the April 13 shooting death of Chad Swedberg, which occurred while he was processing maple syrup near his home in rural Ogema.

Assistant Attorney General Al Zdrazil is handling prosecution of the case, along with County Attorney Mike Fritz.

Attorney Rory Durkin, of Giancola Law Office, Anoka, is handling the defense.

Durkin noted that Andersen is an American Indian, and asked potential jurors if they were likely to value the testimony of a law enforcement officer above that of other witnesses.

"Would you treat all testimony equally, be it a police officer or a Native American?" he asked.

He also asked if they had served in the military, and whether they were familiar with hunting and various types of firearms and ammunition.

"It's been widely reported that a firearm that may have belonged to Mr. Andersen was found on his property -- can you have an open mind on that?" Durkin asked one potential juror.

Zdrazil explained that he was helping prosecute the case at the request of former County Attorney Joe Evans, and was invited to stay on by new County Attorney Mike Fritz.

"You don't think I'm some big city lawyer coming up here to tell people what to do?" he asked potential jurors.

He asked if there was ever a good reason to commit murder, and asked if they would be willing to listen to all the evidence and follow the law as laid out by District Judge Peter Irvine.

He also asked if potential jurors understood that the case is important to the state as well as the defense, even though only the defense will have the defendant during the trial to serve as a "living reminder" as to that importance.

The 12-member jury is expected to be selected this week. The defense is allowed to reject 15 potential jurors, the prosecution can reject nine potential jurors.

The trial is expected to start Monday and to last four to six weeks.