Judge Freeberg rules Okerman to stand trial for murder

An order was filed by Judge Conrad I. Freeberg Tuesday, Aug. 5, denying defendant Warren John Okerman’s motion to dismiss a charge of murder in the third degree. Okerman is accused of providing methamphetamine to Leslie Peterson that contributed to her death June 2, 2012. A two-hour omnibus hearing was held June 20.  Assistant Morrison County Attorney Todd Kosovich presented the testimony of Dr. Kelly Mills, M.D., the Ramsey County Medical Examiner who performed Peterson’s Autopsy. Mills found the death was caused by methamphetamine toxicity with other health factors, including heart disease, contributing to her death.

Warren John Okerman
Warren John Okerman

The Defendant was represented by Scott Wonderlich who countered with the testimony of Dr. John Plunkett, a former Hennepin County medical examiner, who stated Dr. Mills’ findings were conclusory given the deceased’s existing health problems.

The defense argued that the issue before the court was whether the State has provided enough evidence to prove the methamphetamine, and not Peterson’s heart problems, caused her death.

Judge Freeberg said, “The court disagrees. The State need not exclude the victim’s health problems no more than it must exclude other factors as potential causes of death. At this present stage, the State needs only demonstrate probable cause that methamphetamine provided by the defendant and consumed by Peterson contributed to her death … The fact that other causes contribute to the death does not relieve the actor of responsibility.”

A plea hearing for Okerman has been set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8. The court may set a jury trial date at that time, or order that a settlement conference be scheduled before the trial.