Friends on both sides testify about couple’s arguments

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friend testifies about previous threats, abuse

Scientist gives fact about blood at scene

Jury watches police interview in homicide trial

Email newsletter signup

Several friends of Chad Jamie Gulbertson and Jody Lee Morrow testified at the Rice County Courthouse Friday of the arguments that they had either seen or heard between the couple when Morrow was still alive.

While several of the witnesses were closer to Morrow and could testify more from they either witnessed or heard Morrow tell them, there was one witness who was closer to Gulbertson and who defended him when talking about the couple’s relationship.

Gulbertson faces five counts of murder in Morrow’s death on June 21, 2009.

Police found Morrow dead in her trailer at 730 Larimore Circle in Albert Lea after she was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.

Gulbertson has been the only suspect in the case after he went to the police the morning of her death and told them he thought he had killed Morrow.

Threats, arguments

Linda Stigney — who knew both Gulbertson and Morrow but was closer to Morrow — said she recalled one time Morrow called her upset because she and Gulbertson were having a disagreement.

Stigney said Morrow told her Gulbertson had stomped down hard on her foot.

She said she heard Gulbertson say if Morrow dated anyone else he would kill her.

Morrow was crying.

When asked whether she ever saw bruises on Morrow, Stigney said she saw bruises on her wrists and neck.

The two would talk on the phone two to three times a week.

Joseph Lee, a former roommate of the couple, said Gulbertson and Morrow’s relationship grew “steadily worse” starting the week after he moved in.

From what Morrow told him, Gulbertson did not contribute financially to the household and he witnessed that Gulbertson would not help clean, Lee said.

“The question is when didn’t I hear an argument about the condition of the trailer,” he testified.

In the last month he lived there, Lee said he witnessed an argument where Morrow told Gulbertson that he needed to get his belongings picked up or he would be kicked out.

Lee said he heard Gulbertson say: “If you kick me out of here, you will have to leave the state because I will come back and kill you.”

At the time he didn’t know Gulbertson well enough to say if he would do something like that.

The former roommate said in the time he lived there he also heard two physical arguments between the couple.

In the first, he said, he was out on the front porch smoking when he heard some yelling from down the hall and things being slammed against the wall.

He grabbed the phone and was getting ready to call the police when Morrow came out of the room and told him the argument was done.

In the second, he said he was sitting on his computer in the entryway to the trailer when he heard a fight in the back bedroom that Morrow and Gulbertson shared.

When Morrow came out of the bedroom, Morrow yelled at the top of her lungs: “That’s the last time you’re going to kick me,” Lee testified.

He said he never saw Morrow or Gulbertson hit each other with his own eyes.

After he moved out, Lee said he and Gulbertson mutually avoided each other.

Sheila Bangs, the fiancee of Stephen Underdahl, another former roommate of the couple, said she was a close friend of Morrow’s who also knew Gulbertson from the time Underdahl was at the trailer.

Bangs said at first the couple’s relationship seemed OK.

Sometimes she would hear arguments between them when she was on the phone with Underdahl but she never really knew what they were about.

In the spring of 2009, she, Underdahl and Gulbertson had a rummage sale at her home on Margaretha Avenue.

Bangs said Gulbertson seemed kind of upset that day when he came and at one point he said he was planning on killing Morrow.

Bangs said she didn’t take it seriously and told him that wasn’t a nice thing to do.

She last talked to Morrow on the phone the night before her death.

Underdahl, who lived in the trailer with the couple from November 2008 to April 1 of 2009 also testified of a time where Morrow told him that she and Gulbertson had gotten into and argument and Gulbertson reportedly stepped on her foot.

“She told me it was deliberate,” he said.

‘It was an equal match’

Randy Merrill, a close friend of Gulbertson’s, said he met Gulbertson and Morrow at Cedar House where he was once attending.

When the couple still lived together, he said, they argued a lot — sometimes about helping around the house or about the things Gulbertson brought home. Morrow called those things junk but to him they were not.

Merrill said he saw them in fights where both pushed, and that out of the two of them, he saw more injuries on Gulbertson than Morrow.

Morrow was able to hold her on in a fight and Merrill called it an “equal match” between the two.

He said out of Gulbertson and Morrow, he saw more injuries on Gulbertson from their fights.

After an order for protection was filed ordering Gulbertson to stay away from Morrow, many of Gulbertson’s things were still at the trailer.

“She wouldn’t give him his stuff back not to him or anyone else,” Merrill testified.

Testimony will continue Monday at the Rice County Courthouse in the case.

Look to for further coverage.