Jury selection to begin Monday

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jury selection for murder suspect Chad Jamie Gulbertson will begin Monday morning at the Rice County Courthouse in Faribault.

Gulbertson, 38, of Albert Lea, is charged with killing his estranged girlfriend Jody Lee Morrow last June.

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

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Freeborn County District Court Judge John A. Chesterman indicated Friday there will be 101 potential jurors who will be called to the Rice County courthouse to undergo questioning by prosecutors and defense counsel for the formation of a jury in the case.

The potential jurors will start arriving at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Monday and will then be given a brief statement about the case along with some other instructions, Chesterman said. Afterward, they will begin filling out a 63-question jury questionnaire.

Once questionnaires are completed, prosecutors and defense counsel will review the questionnaires and meet one-on-one with the potential jurors until the jury is formed.

Jury selection could last throughout the week, Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson said Thursday, with arguments beginning the following week. However, the time frame could vary, depending on the selection process.

The lawyers are anticipating the trial could go through the end of April.

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

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.

A preliminary report 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.

Morrow had applied for an emergency order for protection against Gulbertson in both September of 2008 and in May of 2009. She was granted an official order for protection June 1, 2009, according to court records.

Gulbertson’s public defender Kevin Riha said he intends to rely on a heat-of-passion type argument in the trial.

Gulbertson will be transported in civilian clothes from the Freeborn County jail each day of the trial.