Rory Durkin

As we continue to hear “what happened?” the morning of April 13, 2007, Ken Andersen’s attorney, Rory Durkin, tells a different story of the events the day Chad Swedberg was shot and killed. He also was not there that morning.

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Mr. Durkin begins by telling the jury that Ken Andersen most certainly did not kill Chad Swedberg. He paints the long history of two best friends who became business partners, partied together, and helped each other through life. The prosecution never disputes these facts.

On the day of April 13, 2007, Don Berry and his wife heard a domestic call to the police on their scanner. The source? The Swedberg residence. At first one of the EMT’s swore to the same call. This was before the investigators put enough pressure for the story to change. When Ken Andersen talked to Chad that morning, he could hear Chad and Leslie arguing.

Rory describes how ludicrous it is to try an believe that Ken Andersen woke up, took a shower,  took a rifle down, waded through a muddy trail, killed his best friend, wadded back over to his house in broad daylight carrying a murder weapon, hide said rifle , made some phone calls, and wait patiently for a ride to get his taxes done, all without leaving a single track, print, or clue.

He reveals that state is going to show they don’t know the precise caliber of the bullets that killed Chad. Their expert thought it could have been a 30-06, and maybe a 15o brain or a 180 grain. The expert thinks it may have been a regular hollow point, or a Ballistic Silver Tip. In other words they don’t and still don’t know exactly what caliber and type of bullets killed Chad.

He relates the events of the search of Ken’s barn and the investigators finding the Tikka rifle in Ken’s barn. He also recounts how they do not match the bullets in Chad’s body.  Rory also talks about the latent palm print on the Tikka. Ken Andersen once owned the rifle and it is not s surprise his print would be on a rifle they find in his barn. They also find a print on the rifle that does not match Ken’s.  He speculates it could be a cop that handled it. We still don’t know.

Mr. Durkin states there is no DNA evidence to link to Ken to the syrup stand murder that morning. He sums it up by saying that he doesn’t know what happened that morning, but the evidence does not support the THEORY that Ken Andersen killed Chad Swedberg.

So what happened?

Mike Fritz

As I said in the post “So What Happened?”, there are a number of versions of what happened the morning Chad Swedberg was murdered. We will take a look at all of them and notice some glaring differences, mainly by those who were NOT there that morning, and even the ones who were. Let me introduce Mike Fritz, the County Attorney for Becker County. Mr. Fritz had the job of charging Ken Andersen with this murder and then prosecuting him. Mr. Fritz is a graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law, but decided to call in Al Zdrazil from the Attorney General’s Office to help him with this case. Below is a film clip of Mike being interviewed of the 300 child abuse cases he uncovered.

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I will let you read the opening statement Fritz made at the trial as he explains to the jury as to what he THINKS happened the morning Chad died.  Since he was not there that morning, he is telling them what he thinks happened. I wasn’t there either, but after reading the same things he did, I have my own opinion.

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Fritz begins by saying what he says are the “facts” of the case. When a prosecutor stands up in a court room and tells jurors these are the “facts”, not this is what I “think” happened, he is entering almost biblical status to those whose job it is to simply believe what he says. Here is what he states are the “facts”:

Ken Andersen has shot and killed Chad Swedberg.

Chad was a happy-go-lucky person who was well liked by all.

On April 17, 2007, Chad got up at 6:30 am to make maple syrup so that the pancakes he made would have enough syrup on them since he worried they might run out.

Chad wanted to watch a TV program about wolves but had to leave and asked his loving wife to watch it for him. Chad left dressed in boots and jeans, putting on layers on clothing.  He put on his Carhart jacket and his favorite baseball cap.

The weather great, with the sun  shinning and a breeze in the air. He walked to his maple syrup stand because the ground was muddy and he didn’t want to get stuck.

Fritz walks the jury through the details of Chad’s syrup process like one who has spent a lifetime in the woods tapping the trees for its juice.

Fritz tells the jury that he knows that Chad arrived at the stand at 8:00 am.  He then tells the jury that Chad was shot in the back a few minutes after 8 am.  He says that he even knows how long it took for Chad to die

He knows that Leslie Fain is a worrier.  He details how she worries about everything so much that she needs everyone to have cell phones on them all the time.

He knows that Leslie tries to call Chad at 8:14 am, 8:16 am, 8:46 am, 9:47 am, before worry gets the best of her and she decides to walk to the maple stand where Chad lays dead.

On page 863 Fritz becomes mystical and tells the jury that he even knows what Leslie Fain is thinking. He swears that she wanted to call 911, but in her hysteria she reasoned how difficult it would be for the EMT’s to get up in the woods.  She puts off calling for help and calls Ken Swedberg. This is reasonable to the jury by now since she has been putting off checking on Chad for almost 2 hours.  What is more time?

Immediately, Ken Swedberg arrives and determines his brother is dead and has her call 911.

On page 864, Fritz says “fucking” so as to shock the jury a little. You can be sure as they are getting a close up recount of what sounds like an eye witness to a murder they are already shocked.

Fritz goes into great detail as to what the investigators did for the next hour, in fact the details are far greater detail than the reports these people wrote themselves.

On pages 870-873, Fritz goes out of his way to provide, Morning Star Belcourt, Thomas Covington, and Al Baker with alibis and great details of their activities that morning so as to make them look as innocent as possible.

From pages 874-892, Fritz goes in vivid details of how they discovered the criminal known as “Ken Andersen” came to commit this horrific act. He details the multiple searches of his property until they found the rifle he is admitting into evidence as the murder weapon.

Mike Fritz closes his opening statements with the sentence “we are confident at the conclusion of this trial you will find the defendant guilty of premeditated murder of Chad Swedberg”.

This sounds powerful and a cake walk to a guilty verdict. The only problem is Mike Fritz was not there at all on April 13, 2007. He doesn’t know these people and is only doing his “job”, which means get a conviction. If he fails, he is not doing his job, by the standards of today. Fritz needs to win.

So what happened that morning? Keep reading!

So What Happened?

White Earth is a reservation populated by the Ojibwe Tribe in northern Minnesota. A portion of those who live there are white and Chad Swedberg was one of those. White Earth is remote and wooded.  On the morning of April 13, 2007, here is some of what happened. Chad woke up early, and handled a few phone calls.  He was in a hurry to go work in the maple syrup stand in the woods behind his house. There is a multiple stream of conflicting stories of what else was going on. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at each statement and try to establish what happened. Just before 10 am that morning, Chad’s wife, Leslie Fain, would call 911 from a cell phone in front of her dead husband, lying on the ground by the maple stand. The 911 call was not the first call she had made. Leslie had called Ken Swedberg first, as he lived next door.  He was also at the maple stand and he was the one who told her to make the call. I will not refer to the maple stand as the murder site as that exact place Chad was shot was never established.

In a few minutes the EMT’s would arrive at the house and Ken Swedberg was waiting there to transport them on an ATV up the muddy trail to the maple stand. Once there, they determined he was dead, but could not say why. It took rolling Chad over and a close inspection before they saw two bullets that entered his back.

Police began to arrive and the muddy ground was trampled over and over. They stood by and watched as Ken Swedberg would transport his brother’s body in a Bobcat front end loader back to the house and into an ambulance. No suspects or clues were found that day. None.

The police were challenged to find out two things: what happened and why?

April 13, 2007

On the morning of April 13, 2007, at about 10 am, Chad Swedberg, a man in White Earth, Minnesota, was found dead in the woods behind his house. Below is a picture of the crime scene. Once you open the pdf, you can “right click” and rotate the picture clockwise. You can also zoom in and inspect the details.

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There are many accounts of what happened that morning. The following account is from one Joseph MacArthur, a police officer in White Earth.

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In these 5 pages, MacArthur says he got the dispatch call at 9:55 am and arrived at 37450 Little White Earth Lake Road at 1031 am. He was told that the victim was Chad Swedberg and was definitely dead. He was also told the call came from the person who found him, Leslie Fain, his wife. He soon saw Leslie drive up to the house in a truck and go in the house.

At this moment, the house had not been secured.  He then told the officers to secure the house. There is  no record as to what that order meant or if it was done. He was told the crime scene was already secured.  He reports the weather was warm and the ground was soft and muddy. Instead of going to the actual place the murder occurred, MacArthur decides to ride in Lisa Swedberg’s suv with Ken Swedberg, the brother of Chad, at the wheel. They drive on County Highway #34, and then over to Fish Hook Lake. They then drove over to CR #21 to North 374th to the intersection of 280th ave. They got out and walked around Fish Hook Lake.  He lets Ken smoke a cigarette on the trail not caring this is contaminating the scene.  They found no tracks or evidence at all.

During this time, possible witnesses and suspects were waiting at the White Earth RTC and getting upset over having to wait. MacArthur goes to interview them, after spending only a few minutes at the crime scene, where any possible clues were still in existence.  For the past hour, police and citizens have been plunging in the mud over and over on the trail on ATV’s and trucks. destroying the scene completely.

At the RTC, he interviews Ann Fain, and Thomas Covington. It is curious as to why he only talked to them at this very crucial time. He later talks to his brother, John MacArthur, who assures him he has talked to everyone except for Terry Andersen, It is reported that Brian Donner had heard gun shots early in the morning, but no time was given yet. MacArthur talks to Ken Swedberg again, but at the end of the day, no clues or suspects have emerged, which later will become a source of frustration to the police.

Wrongful Convictions

In the May 21, 2012 issue of the Huffington Post, Pete Yost recounts that in the last 23 years, over 2,000 people who were convicted by a jury, were later exonerated by the same “justice system” that locked them up.  There is no official record keeping bureau keeping track of this, so the University of Michigan Law School decided to set one up.  The Center for Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern School of Law, has the most accurate list on exonerations ever compiled.  They have studied the cases of 873 convictions that totaled a little more than 10,000 years in prison.  Nearly half were homicide cases, and 101 were death sentences. The common factor in most of these cases was perjury or false testimony.  Another common thread was a dishonest prosecutor who actually knew the person was innocent but tried for a conviction or a “win” anyway. Most of these involved people who were underfunded and unable to put on a proper defense against a well funded prosecution team.

The sole purpose of the blog is tell the story of one of these cases that has not been exonerated but needs to be. This is the story of Ken Andersen, of White Earth, Minnesota. Ken is serving a life sentence in Rush City, Minnesota.  He is innocent.  I ask you to begin to take a look at the facts of the case.

On April 13, 2007, Chad Swedberg was found dead in the woods behind his house. His best friend, Ken Andersen, was convicted of killing him.  This blog will explore the details of how that occurred. Juries all over the country are sending the wrong people to prison, some even to their death. The State of Texas has recently admitted executing several men, who later were found to be 100% innocent. This should bother us more than it does. I remember the current Governor of Texas,  Rick Perry, bragging in the Republican Primary debates, that he has never lost a minute’s sleep over these executions. How is this possible?

New postings will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Come back tomorrow for the beginning of this real life tragedy.

The Andersen Family