MANKATO (TEC News) – Three witnesses took the stand this morning in the opening session of the Joel Munt murder trial in Mankato.
Munt is accused of the March 2010 shooting death of his wife in front of the couple’s three young children inside Rasmussen Woods.
Blue Earth County 9-1-1 dispatcher Brenda Keenan was first on the stand and set the stage for the jury eventually hearing a 9-1-1 call placed by witness Todd Block.
The 21 year veteran dispatcher reviewed the emergency call with prosecutor Pat Mc Dermott.
The call for help was received at 11:48:31. In 23 seconds the first units were dispatched to Rasmussen Woods. By 11:56:44 a Blue Earth County Sheriff Deputy had Munt in custody about four miles away.
The prosecution played the 9-1-1 call for the jury. You could hear an out of breath Todd Block saying there was a “woman shot in car” and “he’s grabbing children.”
During his opening, Pat McDermott said Block was at the park that morning to simply walk his dog. He was on a trail when he heard a crash and near the park’s restroom area when he heard gunshots.
“He’s pointing the gun at the other people”, Block could be heard on the 9-1-1 tape.
Those people were Mark Deichman, his wife and three children who pulled into the park after seeing smoke from the accident while driving by on Stoltzman Road.
Munt is accused of pointing a gun at the Deichman’s while he stole their vehicle and fled with his children.
“You gotta hurry…you can’t let him leave,” an excited Block could be heard telling dispatch.
Eventually Deichman would get on Block’s phone and describe his vehicle to Dispatcher Keenan.
Deichman told dispatch that the man left with three children, one who was very bloody.
The dispatcher asked them to see if somebody was hurt.
That’s when the prosecution ended the tape.
The second witness was North Mankato Police Officer Dan Forster.
Forester was on patrol on Lookout Drive when he heard the radio traffic of a man with a gun in Rasmussen Woods.
He responded, reaching the park in 3 or 4 minutes. Pulling into the park he saw than an SUV had T-boned the drivers side door of a car. The car was pushed off the paved parking lot sideways.
Photos entered into evidence show the victim Svetlana Munt’s car pushed into several trees on the passenger side doors. Other photos documented the general park area and where the crime scene was in relation to Stoltzman Road and where witness Todd Block was when he heard the crash and later the gunshots.
Forester was later joined at the scene by Mankato police commander Deb McDermott (wife of prosecutor Pat McDermott) and Mankato Police Officer Dale Stoltman.
Stoltman and Forester both testified that when they arrived they could see smoke coming from the rear passenger side tire of Joel Munt’s SUV.
His SVU was left in drive with the accelerator stuck wide open and the tire spinning and smoking and tearing up asphalt until the tires tore apart.
“It was extremely loud…chaotic,” said Stoltman.
Forester used a baton to smash out the driver’s side window of the SUV so he could reach in and turn off the vehicle.
The officers cleared the SUV and then approached the car, where they found a dead female.
Several photos of the vehicles were shown to the jury of the missing tire along with the tire and asphalt debris on the ground and on both cars.
The prosecution then had Stoltman describe photos taken of the inside of Svetlana Munt’s car.
The jury was able to see a face down female inside the car. The lower half of her body was in the backseat. Her torso was between the bucket seats and shoulders and head between to airbags.
Three bullet wounds could be viewed on her upper back.
“It was quite obvious she was deceased,” said Stoltzman.
Outside the car, Stoltzman said he observed one unspent bullet on the ground and three spent casings from a .45 caliber gun near the rear of the car.
The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.