Lawyer seeks to overturn first-degree murder conviction

Published 4:26pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The lawyer of convicted murderer Chad Jamie Gulbertson on Wednesday asked a Freeborn County District Court judge to vacate his client’s first-degree murder conviction.

Gulbertson, of Albert Lea, was sentenced to life in prison on April 30, 2010, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse of ex-girlfriend Jody Lee Morrow. He was also found guilty of second-degree intentional murder and second-degree murder while violating an order for protection.

Morrow, 38, was discovered dead in her trailer at 730 Larimore Circle on June 21, 2009, after Gulbertson reportedly went to the Law Enforcement Center and told police he thought he killed his ex-girlfriend. She died from blunt-force injuries to the head, receiving at least 18 blows with a hammer, and also had three stab wounds with a knife.

Bradford Colbert, a state public defender, on Wednesday argued prosecutors did not show sufficient evidence of a past pattern of domestic abuse by Gulbertson toward Morrow, which is required for the first-degree conviction.

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Bill Klumpp said prosecutors showed several instances of domestic abuse by Gulbertson and noted that while Morrow was “somewhat quarrelsome” herself, it was Gulbertson’s behavior that the jury was looking at.

Colbert argued that calls to police from prior domestic disturbances came from both Gulbertson and Morrow.

“Morrow and Gulbertson had a volatile relationship, but it was volatile in both directions,” he said, noting that both pushed, shoved and made threats toward each other.

He also argued that prior testimony Morrow made when when she applied for an order for protection from Gulbertson should not have been admitted into evidence.

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Bill Klumpp said it did not matter whether Morrow herself had previous instances of abuse toward Gulbertson for the conviction and said the conviction looked solely at Gulbertson’s behavior.

He said there were a number of instances testified about during the trial in which Morrow sustained physical injuries from altercations with Gulbertson and also noted she was wheelchair-bound at the time of her death.

Gulbertson initially argued that he killed Morrow in a “heat of passion” but close to the end of the trial came out and testified two others had actually been the people who committed the murder and that he was an eye witness.

The motion is being heard by Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab.

He has 90 days to issue a ruling on the case.