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Dodd's attorneys given more time to prepare his defense in shooting death of former Lake Park police chief

Morris Silas Dodd Jr. of rural Ogema is accused of second-degree manslaughter and a second count of felony possession of a firearm for the shooting death of former Lake Park Police Chief Jay Nelson. (Photo courtesy of the Becker County Sheriff's Dept.)

The man accused of firing the shot that took the life of former Lake Park Police Chief Jay Nelson appeared at a hearing Monday in Becker County District Court.

Morris Silas Dodd Jr., 54, of rural Ogema faces one count of second-degree manslaughter and a second count of felony possession of a firearm.

His attorneys asked District Judge Jay Carlson for a continuance to give the defense more time to go through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report, the medical examiners report, search warrant documents and DNA evidence.

Becker County Attorney Brian McDonald objected to the delay "on behalf of the state and the victim's family," he said. DNA evidence was submitted in January and the state's final accounting of the evidence it intends to use at trial were turned over the defense in January, and no concerns have been raised by defense counsel, he said. "I just don't understand the need for additional delay," he said.

Citing the serious nature of the charges against him, Dodd's attorneys asked for an additional six weeks to prepare his defense.

Judge Carlson agreed that the case is serous and granted a 45-day continuance, with Dodd's next court appearance set for 1:30 p.m. April 15.

According to the criminal complaint, a call came in reporting a death in rural Becker County on Saturday, Nov. 10 just after 6 p.m. Officers arrived at the location on a logging trail near Little Flat Lake, where they found Nelson deceased in his vehicle.

An autopsy performed by the Ramsey County Medical Center determined that he had suffered a gunshot wound through his upper back-shoulder area. His cause of death was classified as a homicide.

During the investigation into Nelson's death, officers discovered a spent shell casing, a cigarette butt and footprints several hundred yards from where Nelson was found. A known male was interviewed and recalled seeing an older male with a long beard hunting in the area at the time Nelson was shot. The older male was later identified as Morris Silas Dodd Jr.

On a later date, Dodd was interviewed and admitted to hunting in the area on Nov. 10. He stated he was hunting with a Remington Model 700 .30-06 rifle. Dodd stated that sometime that morning he fired a shot in the area of a fawn, hoping to "spook it." He indicated that he was not purposefully trying to hit the fawn but just firing a shot in the general area to scare it. He denied seeing a vehicle or purposefully shooting at any vehicle or victim.

Officers seized Dodd's rifle and were able to match it to the spent shell located in the woods and the bullet found in Nelson's back.

Dodd was convicted of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1994, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm. He faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine for the manslaughter charge and 15 years and/or a $30,000 fine for illegally possessing a firearm.