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Jurors see graphic photos of victims' injuries in Zornes trial

Tracy Zornes

MOORHEAD - Prosecutors and defense attorneys will deliver closing arguments this morning in the double-murder trial against Tracy Zornes, sending the case to jurors later today.

Prosecutors rested their case Monday, capping off more than 10 days of testimony by showing jurors autopsy photos that graphically depicted the extent of John Cadotte's and Megan Londo's multiple injuries.

Prosecutors say Zornes killed Londo and Cadotte and set ablaze the lower-level apartment at 901 9th Ave. S. in Moorhead where their bodies were discovered on Feb. 19, 2010.

In Zornes' defense, his attorneys called four witnesses, including his cousin, Betty Oppegard, who testified that he had a history of evading police well before he was found about two weeks after the killings in a makeshift hideout in rural Mahnomen County.

She cited a time several months before the homicides when Zornes asked Oppegard to hide his truck because of an arrest warrant against him in an unrelated criminal case.

Moorhead resident Dan Gregerson testified that Londo had asked him, on the night before she was found dead, if he could find her narcotic pain pills. He declined to help her, but they did plan to meet up the next day.

"Obviously, she never made it," Gregerson said.

Zornes, who didn't testify, remained mostly stoic as Assistant Ramsey County Medical Examiner Butch Huston spent more than two hours reviewing 34 photos of the victims' slain bodies.

Jurors fidgeted uncomfortably in their seats, looking visibly disturbed through much of Huston's testimony. One juror reported feeling ill at one point due to the photos' gruesome nature.

Londo and Cadotte both died due to multiple blunt-force injuries and stab wounds before the fire was started, Huston testified.

Cadotte suffered at least 21 blows to the head from a blunt object that was consistent with either the head of a claw hammer or chair legs taken from the apartment, Huston said. But, he said, the extent of the skull fractures was "more consistent with a heavier object, such as a hammer, rather than a chair leg."

Cadotte had at least nine stab wounds: five to his back, one to each of his ears and at least two to the base of his skull, he said.

Londo sustained multiple blows to the head as well and took one stab wound to her chest, Huston said.

The fire burned Londo's body more than Cadotte's, and the images of her disfigured face and body forced some of Londo's relatives to exit the courtroom in tears.

Zornes' attorneys argued early Monday to limit what images the jury ought to see because of the gruesome nature of the images.

However, Judge Galen Vaa allowed the photos to be shown to the jurors, saying the images were "critically important to the state's case" in proving premeditation through the extent of the injuries.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541