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Judge orders mental exam for Willmar murder suspect

Algene Vossen

Kandiyohi County Judge Steve Wentzell this morning ordered the suspect in the 1974 murder of Mae Herman to undergo a mental competency examination. In a hearing held via zoom teleconference, Wentzell ordered the Rule 20 exam for 79-year-old Algene Vossen of Sioux Falls, who is charged with 2nd Degree Murder for the killing of Herman in her Willmar home on January 26th 1974.

During the hearing, Vossen’s attorney Kent Marshall told the judge he had met with Vossen “half a dozen times” and has had difficulty communicating with his client and was having a hard time putting together a defense. Marshall said an MRI showed abnormalities in Vossen’s brain which may be from dementia, and said if there is any doubt of a client’s competency, a Rule 20 exam must be ordered. Kristen Pierce with the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office said Marshall had failed to prove Vossen qualified for a Rule 20. Judge Wentzell ordered the exam, and also ordered Vossen be examined for a possible commitment to a mental health facility. The results of the Rule 20 will be examined by the court on March 2nd. Vossen was silent throughout the hearing. He is currently free on medical furlough while he is being examined and treated for mental and physical ailments in Des Moines Iowa.

Vossen was an initial suspect in Herman’s murder but was never charged. A Willmar Police Department Cold Case Team reopened the case last summer and focused on Vossen. Eventually they matched DNA found at the scene of the crime with Vossen’s DNA, and he was arrested. A hair found on Herman’s body will be tested for DNA next week.

(JP Cola, KWLM)

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