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Betsy Hanks indicted on second-degree murder

A grand jury in Beltrami County has indicted Betsy Marie Hanks, 25, of rural Kelliher, with premeditated first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder for her alleged role in the Oct. 20 shooting of 27-year-old Matthew David Albert. Both charges are serious felonies.

The indictment was unsealed Monday before Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof. Bail was set at $1.5 million. Hanks' next court appearance has been set for July 27.

The maximum penalty of premeditated first-degree murder is life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for intentional second-degree murder is 40 years.

Hanks previously was charged, via criminal complaint, with intentional second-degree murder.

According to the criminal complaint, Hanks was Albert's partner and they had four children together.

Albert, of Kelliher, was alive but unconscious when authorities arrived on scene Oct. 20. He was transported by Blackduck Ambulance to a landing site for North Memorial Air Ambulance, which airlifted him to North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis. Albert never regained consciousness, and he died Oct. 21.

According to the complaint, Hanks initially called 911 at 10:23 a.m. Oct. 20 saying that she just returned to their home and found Albert with a gunshot wound to the head.

She initially told police she found Albert in bed and that he kept a pistol in a case by the bed, but she could not locate the pistol, according to the complaint.

But in a later interview with investigators, Hanks offered different accounts of the incident, according to the complaint. She first repeated her earlier order of events. She then stated that she saw one of her children playing with the pistol, and when she tried to take it away, it discharged and shot Albert.

Hanks then said she had shot Albert in the head with the pistol to give their children a better father, according to the complaint. She told investigators that she took the pistol and shot Albert in the back of the head, and then she took the gun and disposed of it in a swampy area.

Hanks showed investigators where she had tossed the gun, and it was recovered, according to the complaint.

Hanks told police that she and Albert had been discussing some issues they were having in their relationship and had stayed up talking until 4 a.m. Oct. 20. One of the issues was that Albert believed Hanks was romantically involved with another man, a claim that Hanks denied.

The morning of the shooting, Albert got up and fed two of the children and left to purchase more food. He returned home and went back to bed.

Hanks got the older two children off to school on the bus. She then prepared to take one of the younger children to Mizpah. The youngest child was sleeping and would remain home.

Hanks told police that Albert told her to simply leave him when she left the house.

A preliminary autopsy by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner indicated that Albert died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the left side of his head.