The Jason Dominguez trial just finished its second day. He has been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Dustin Brown in Little Falls, Oct. 3, 2011. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Morrison County Attorney Todd Kosovich and Assistant Attorney General William Klumpp.
Dominguez, dressed in a white Polo-type shirt, white tennis shoes and blue work pants, is defending himself, but does not seem to be doing much defending. He has not cross-examined any of the prosecution’s witnesses, nor has he done any objecting. There also has not been any objections to the evidence filed with the court.
But, he does not seem bored with the proceedings. Dominguez is paying rapt attention to all the evidence brought up in Judge Douglas Anderson’s courtroom.
Present in the courtroom was Suzanne and Pat Brown, family of the victim, along with several other friends or family.
Klumpp had the floor most of today (Monday, Jan. 14) with the 10 witnesses called to testify.
The first witness of the day was Doug Rekstad, a Morrison County Sheriff with the Drug Task Force. He told the court that on Oct. 3, 2011, the Little Falls Police Department had contacted him to help locate a black hooded sweatshirt which had been thrown from a moving vehicle south of Little Falls. The sweatshirt was found, along with grey sweat pants, south of County Road 34 and north of the Soo Line Trail bridge, on the west side of Highway 10.
The clothing, with blood stains, was brought into evidence.
When the second witness, Dr. Kelly Mills, a forensic pathologist, from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office in St. Paul, sat on the stand, the Brown family left the room.
Mills determined Brown was killed by homicide because he was found dead in a burning home and had seven gun shot wounds.
The bullet wounds were in Brown’s left cheek, chest, head, shoulder, knee, thigh and back. Three of the bullets traveled through the body, four were recovered during the autopsy.
Some of the wounds were consistent with Brown laying on his back while he slept. The final ones were into his back area, consistent with him falling off the bed onto the floor and onto his face.
Mills said the cause of death could have come from the shot to the head, the shot to the right thigh which hit the pelvis, bladder and bowels or the shot to the back which hit the ribs, two lobes of the left lung and his chest.
The next witness was Dee Henderson a retail manager with ATT. Records of Brown’s phone usage showed many calls and texts between him and Dominguez between Aug. 16, 2011, and Oct. 2, 2011.
Tapes of phone calls between Dominguez and inmates at Stillwater Prison were played during the afternoon court session. Witness Bradley Patet, an investigator for the Department of Corrections, researched for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s (BCA)’s case taped phone calls between Dominguez and his pals still in prison.
“Daniel Ahlquist asked for information about Brown’s acquaintances in prison, in particular, a heavily tattooed, one-armed man,” said Patet. “I knew Dominguez. I researched the taped calls from the prison and learned Dominguez was upset about $1,400 he said Brown took from him to buy methamphetamine, yet never returned.”
Patet said one tape has Dominguez stating he knows where Brown lived.
The fifth witness was Lorraine Moede, the manager at the Super 8 Motel in Little Falls. She told the court Dominguez and another person stayed at the motel the night of Sept. 1, 2011.
The sixth witness was Samantha Lynn Flon, who lived at the 7-Hi Budget Motel in Hutchinson, where Dominguez also lived. She said she went with him in September to St. Cloud to purchase drugs. There they met with Brown and another person.
The money changed hands and she said Brown had told them he would return in 20 minutes with the methamphetamine.
“Jason got agitated when Brown did not return,” she said. “We returned to Hutchinson, then went to Little Falls and drove around looking for a trailer court, knowing Brown lived in one.”
Flon said Dominguez said he wanted to beat Brown up.
They got a hotel room at the Super 8 in Little Falls, Flon fell asleep and Dominguez continued looking for Brown.
Flon also recounted a conversation with Amber Martin that occurred Oct. 3, 2011. She said Martin had been with Dominguez in Little Falls the evening before and was hysterical talking about it. She asked Flon to watch her children while she went to the police. She also showed Sam bruises on her chest and arm, inflicted by Dominguez.
“She told me she was scared because she didn’t know what would happen to her,” said Flon.
Robert Huth, who lives at the Little Falls Cottages on Lindbergh Drive North, was the seventh witness. He remembered a man coming to his door about Oct. 1, 2011, asking where Brown lived.
The eighth witness, Cory Kuehn, also lives at the Little Falls Cottages, next to where Brown lived. He said he saw lights flickering between the two trailers at about 3:30 a.m., then four or five gunshots about 15 minutes later. He thought his neighbor, Brown, had been shot, yet he did not investigate.
“About two weeks before the incident, I spoke with a man with tattoos, one arm, glasses, wearing a hoodie who asked about Brown,” he said. He then pointed to Dominguez in the courtroom.
The next witness was Jeffery Denz, a conservation officer with the Department of Natural Resources. He related coming across two people Sept. 24, 2011, in a field target shooting. The were Dominguez and Martin. In their possession he found a Smith and Wesson .380 caliber gun.
Denz said he didn’t do anything to the two, just reminded them they needed the owner of the property’s permission to be target practicing on his or her property. Later, when he heard Dominguez had been arrested, he wrote his report from the notes he had taken that day.
The last witness of the day was Ahlquist, retired, who was working with the BCA at the time of Brown’s murder. He headed the investigation in Hutchinson, teaming with the local police department.
When Dominguez was located, he agreed to go to the police department and answer questions about the incident in Little Falls. Ahlquist, knowing Martin was sleeping in the hotel room, went to speak with her. At first she lied about the evening, but he convinced her to talk about the incident, saying that if she did not pull the trigger, she had nothing to worry about.
Martin agreed to talk, showed officers where the gun and ammunition was buried, and where the shovel was that buried the gun. She also provided financial records of purchases made during the evening and early morning of Oct. 2 -3, 2011, and the clothing she was wearing at the time of the murder.
When the gun was found, Dominguez was arrested.
What was never recovered was Brown’s phone and wristwatch, along with the seven shell casings picked up after the shooting.
“If Martin had not provided us with information as quickly as she did, an arrest would not have been made,” said Ahlquist.