Judge denies communication between married defendants in double-murder case
The two defendants were legally married June 9, which was after Darren Stebe was incarcerated in connection with the double homicide.
BEMIDJI -- Two of the defendants in a double-homicide investigation will not be able to communicate with each other, despite the fact they are a married couple.
During a Friday hearing, Judge John Melbye denied a request to allow communication between Darren Stebe, 45, and Kristi Trisco, 31, both of Bemidji. Both are suspects in the violent deaths from earlier this year Adam Thorpe, 39, of Maple Grove, Minn., and Jason McDonough, 41, of the Superior, Wis., area.
Court documents indicate the confrontation between Stebe and the victims was related to the purchase of methamphetamine.
Stebe has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Trisco has been charged with two counts of aiding an offender after the fact. A third man, Daniel Linde, 54, of Cass Lake has also been charged with two counts of aiding an offender after the fact.
During Stebe’s arraignment hearing in August , Melbye set conditions that forbid Stebe from communicating with the other defendants in the case. At that time, Stebe’s attorney, Kassius Benson, asked the judge to allow an exception to that rule since Stebe and Trisco were married. At the time, the judge said he might revisit the issue in the future but that the condition would stand in the meantime.
According to county records, the two defendants were legally married June 9, which was after Stebe was incarcerated in connection with the double homicide.
During Friday’s hearing, Benson asked the judge to revisit the issue. Benson filed a motion in regard to the request on Sept. 1, which said “communication between the two will benefit the marital relationship and will not prejudice the prosecution in any way.”
Benson told the judge on Friday that the communication between Trisco and Stebe would be monitored. He also said that if the two were going to collaborate about the case, they likely would have done so in the time before they were formally charged.
Prosecutor Dave Frank, however, took a different stance. He said that “the bulk” of the couple’s former communication with one another was about the details of the case and not about their relationship with one another or about their marriage, which he followed up by saying “if you want to call it that.”
Stebe was arrested in early February in connection to a missing person’s report about the two victims. When authorities arrived at the home where Stebe and Trisco were staying in Eckles Township, they found the remains of the two victims in a fire pit .
Stebe signed a mirandized statement, saying he shot the two men in a garage and that he “had to partially dismember one of the bodies with an electric saw,” according to a search warrant filed in August. Another warrant in the case indicated Stebe cut McDonough because his body was too heavy to move otherwise.
Linde allegedly helped Stebe move the bodies of the two victims to the fire pit. The criminal complaint said that Trisco both knew about the alleged murder and helped Stebe spend some of the money they supposedly took from the victims.
Stebe’s next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13. Trisco and Linde will each have a hearing on Oct. 7.