MANKATO (TEC News) – “This case is not about Svetlana Munt’s parenting skills. This case is about how she died.”
The jury is now deliberating the fate of Joel Marvin Munt, charged with murdering his ex-wife in front of the couple’s three small children on March 28, 2010 in Mankato’s Rasmussen Woods.
After nearly an hour of jury instructions from Judge Kurt Johnson, prosecutor Pat McDermott began his hour and 43 minute closing statement.
“Her or me…that’s what Joel Munt said…said it for months,” began McDermott.
Munt is accused of premeditated murder and McDermott set out in his closing to drive that point home to the jury.
“What happened is on March 28, 2010 that man (pointing to Munt) finally had a chance to act,” McDermott told the jury.
McDermott attempted to show the jury that Munt was not suicidal and that the shooting was not a crime of passion as claimed by the defense.
Law enforcement recovered another loaded clip for Munt’s hand gun and another box of 45 caliber bullets in a larger bag full of ammunition.
“Two clips…one gun…six wounds,” said McDermott. “It only takes one bullet to commit suicide.”
They pulled three knives from his pants pocket along with US Savings Bonds with his children’s names on them.
“Savings bonds for the kids? He planned on taking those kids from her that day,” McDermott told the jury.
He showed the jury a photo of the back set of Munt’s SUV. There was one child seat and one booster seat.
“So why do we have car seats? He was going to take them,” maintained McDermott.
“He despised his ex-wife…he hated her,” said McDermott. “This isn’t a whodunit case. He executed his ex-wife.”
In his closing, defense attorney Scott Cutcher said the case was never about who did it, but about what crime Munt committed.
Cutcher told the jury the shooting was clearly not premeditated.
“If this was premeditated this was one of the worst crime ever,” Cutcher said.
If the shooting was planned, then why did Munt have plans to return to Burnsville to finish watching a movie with his wife. If the shooting was planned, Cutcher asked why would Munt call a client to confirm a meeting later that day in Mankato following his planned supervised visitation at CADA House with his children. If it was planned, Cutcher asked why would Munt have Easter baskets and other items packed for his visit.
“If this was premeditated…why would he run his car into her car,” wondered Cutcher. “There’s no way to get away.”
McDermott played the 9-1-1 call from witness Todd Block. They jury again saw the dash cam video from the squad car that stopped Munt in a vehicle stolen from another family inside Rasmussen Woods.
The jury listened again to audio from a squad car where the three injured children were placed after their father’s arrest. They heard distraught children. They heard one of them say “mommy died”. They heard “Daddy killed her” and “Daddy had a gun.”
The jury looked at crime scene video and autopsy photos.
McDermott reminded the jury Munt shot his ex-wife from “20 inches away.”
“That ladies and gentlemen is an execution,” said McDermott.
“He is selfish. He told a judge he’d never return those kids to Svetlana Munt,” said McDermott. “This case isn’t about depression. It’s about this man’s selfishness.”
“Disassociation is what he’s doing. He did it absolutely,” McDermott told the jury.
In his testimony on Wednesday, Munt claimed he left his body during the shooting and witnessed it second hand. He described the person doing the shooting during his time on the stand as “It”.
“Steven King wrote a book called “It.” Dr. Suess wrote a story called “A Horton Hears A Who.” What he wants you to believe is “A Munt Saw An It.” He’s It,” as McDermott points again at Munt.
The defense says the murder wasn’t premeditated but a crime of passion.
“Something snapped that day,” said Cutcher. “We’re asking you to find him guilty of manslaughter heat of passion.”
“I can’t tell you what happened, why he snapped” said Cutcher. “He was going through hell.”
“He’s guilty of every count except manslaughter,” said McDermott.
McDermott stuck out his arm and point his finger as if shooting a gun.
“1…2…3…4…5…6…at least six times…plenty of time to think it over,” said McDermott.
“Her or me and he decided it was her,” concluded McDermott.
The jury began deliberations at 12:20 p.m.