Gulbertson’s father testifies about morning of Morrow’s death

Published 12:49 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

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The father of Chad Jamie Gulbertson gave emotional testimony Friday morning at the Rice County Courthouse about the morning his son told him he thought he had killed Jody Lee Morrow.

It was the morning of June 21, 2009, a Father’s Day Dennis Gulbertson said he wished he could forget.

On that day, he said, he got a call from Chad Gulbertson, 38, just after 6 a.m. at his home in rural Alden. He didn’t know where his son was calling from.

The father said Chad Gulbertson just told him he needed to come and get him from Albert Lea and that he couldn’t stay there.

Dennis Gulbertson said he was half asleep at the time and was a little angry he had to drive into Albert Lea at that time and pick up his son. He also had a bad headache and was sick.

At about 6:30 a.m. or shortly after, the father said he arrived at the home of Al Ankerson, where Gulbertson was staying on Euclid Avenue. He honked the horn, and Chad Gulbertson came out.

His son had a bag with him that he put in the trunk, and then the father and son drove back to Alden.

Dennis Gulbertson said he did not have a whole lot of conversation with his son on that drive.

When they got to the house in Alden, he told his son he needed to go lie down because he wasn’t feeling well.

After Dennis Gulbertson got up, he said he noticed Chad Gulbertson was lying on the couch crying.

The father said he asked his son what was wrong, and it took the son a while to respond. He kept crying and crying.

Dennis Gulbertson had to ask him the same question three, four or maybe even five times before he got a response, he said.

Finally, the father said, his son told him he had done “the stupidest thing.”

“He said he thought he killed Jody.”

“It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t comprehend what he said,” Dennis Gulbertson said.

His son was crying uncontrollably, and it was hard to understand him.

Chad Gulbertson told him he went to Morrow’s trailer to talk to her and get some of his belongings back. They ended up inside the trailer.

In the courtroom, Dennis Gulbertson said it was hard to remember a lot of their conversation that day because he was “in shock” from hearing what his son told him. He said they both were hysterical and were holding on to each other sobbing. This went on for an hour and a half to two hours.

During questioning by the prosecution, Dennis Gulbertson said he remembered his son saying he thought he had hit Morrow with a hammer and that she was dead.

During later questioning by the defense counsel, the father said he couldn’t remember clearly what was going on.

He did note that his son had an ice pack on his left hand when he was at the house.

He described his son at that time as an “emotional wreck,” “shaken,” and as someone who “wasn’t in his right mind.”

After they cried with each other for up to two hours, the two went to the Law Enforcement Center in Albert Lea, where they asked to speak with officer Bob Etheridge.

The father said his son was wearing the same clothes he had on when he picked him up and that he hadn’t showered at the house. He didn’t smell of alcohol or marijuana.

Dennis Gulbertson said he did not know whether Chad Gulbertson would have been taking his medication for his bipolar disorder that day because he was broke.

When his son was on his medication, he would have been better, the father testified.

June 25, 2009

Prosecutors played the recording of a call made by Chad Gulbertson to his father from June 25, 2009, where the son could be heard asking his father if he wanted to know how his hand got hurt.

Chad Gulbertson said Morrow hit him with a hammer.

Dennis Gulbertson questioned how she could hit him when she was sitting in her wheelchair, and Chad Gulbertson said he was down on the floor in front of her and had his hand on her wheelchair. He admitted to her about an affair.

At the end, Chad Gulbertson told his father Morrow’s killing was self defense.

The recording and testimony came during what is the fifth day of testimony in the homicide trial against Chad Gulbertson.

Gulbertson faces five charges of murder in Morrow’s death.

Morrow was found dead in her trailer June 21, 2009, after suffering at least 18 blows to the head and three stab wounds on the neck.