County attorney asks for continuance in Brianna Broitzman jury trial date

Published 10:42 am Monday, January 25, 2010

Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson on Monday requested a continuance in the Brianna Broitzman jury trial because of a scheduling conflict with the homicide trial against Chad Jamie Gulbertson starting April 12.

Gulbertson, 38, who is accused of murdering his estranged girlfriend Jody Lee Morrow last June, requested a speedy trial at his last hearing Jan. 11.

A speedy trial demand usually means trial within 60 days, if possible, especially if the defendant is in custody, Nelson said.

Email newsletter signup

The only earliest available date for a two- to three-week trial is starting April 12, which is the same date the Broitzman case was scheduled to begin, he said.

Because Nelson needs to be at both trials — and the Gulbertson case alleges murder, which could mean life in prison if there is a conviction — the murder trial takes precedence, he said.

The Broitzman case, which was originally filed in Freeborn County District Court in December 2008, alleges elder abuse of residents at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

Broitzman, 20, has not requested a speedy trial.

Nelson said the Gulbertson trial is scheduled to be in Rice County, after the defendant requested a change of venue in the case. This was the only available location for the case at that time, he said.

Gulbertson faces five murder charges, including three first-degree murder charges and two-second degree murder charges, after a grand jury indictment in October.

He was arrested June 21, 2009, after authorities found Morrow, 38, dead inside her trailer at 730 Larimore Circle in Albert Lea.

Reports from the Freeborn County medical examiner determined that Morrow’s death was caused by multiple blunt-force injuries to her head with a hammer, according to court documents.

Before officers found Morrow, Gulbertson reportedly came into the Law Enforcement Center in the Freeborn County Government Center with a family member and told an officer he thought he killed his former girlfriend, according to police reports.

He has been the only suspect in the case.

According to scheduling in his file, Gulbertson will appear in Freeborn County District Court on Wednesday for a hearing, on March 29 for a pre-trial hearing and then on April 12 for the jury trial.

Broitzman, one of two young women charged as an adult with alleged elder abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, faces 11 charges ranging from fifth-degree assault, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, disorderly conduct and mandatory failure to report suspected abuse at the nursing home.

The charges stem from alleged incidents at the nursing home from January through May 2008. The allegations surfaced after the release of a Minnesota Department of Health report in August 2008 that concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home. The residents suffered from mental degradation conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Look to to find out whether Nelson’s request is approved.