Koochiching County totem pole death brings stiffest murder charge
A man suspected in the totem pole death of his wife will appear in Koochiching County Courthouse this morning on an indictment of first- and second-degree murder.
Carl Chester Muggli of Ray already was facing a second-degree intentional murder charge in the death of his wife when a grand jury returned the indictment Thursday, charging him with first-degree premeditated murder as well as second-degree murder.
The grand jury was convened last week to consider the case, said Koochiching County Attorney Jeffrey Naglosky.
Muggli, 50, is accused in the November 2010 death of his wife, Linda, 61, who died of severe head trauma when a log the couple had been carving for a totem pole fell on her.
Muggli had been free on bond when the indictment was returned. He was re-
arrested and brought to the courthouse, where State
District Court Judge Charles LeDuc set bail at $1 million cash.
The first-degree murder charge, which only a grand jury can return, carries a sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.
In a ruling earlier this month, Muggli was unsuccessful in an attempt to suppress evidence gathered against him.
Muggli had asked the court to suppress evidence obtained from the execution of search warrants used to seize and search his computers. He claimed the evidence was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights.
LeDuc, who is chambered in International Falls, denied the request.
The court also denied Muggli's motions to suppress evidence obtained from a search of his alleged lover's e-mail account and to suppress his statements to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents.
Muggli remained free from jail but was subject to GPS monitoring. He wasn't allowed to leave Koochiching or St. Louis counties without permission of the court.
Naglosky has been assisted in the case by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which handles cases at the request of local prosecutors.
A call from the News Tribune to defense attorney Charles Hawkins seeking comment was not returned Monday.
Charges were brought against Muggli after investigators learned of an Alabama woman who allegedly had intimate and romantic Facebook conversations with Muggli. The woman told a Koochiching County sheriff's deputy that she was on the phone with the defendant on the day his wife died, and she heard him arguing with his wife about getting a divorce.
The woman said Muggli called her back 30 minutes later and told her an accident had happened and emergency medical technicians were working on his wife.
Muggli was arrested June 7 of last year in Stockdale, Texas, where he had moved after his wife's death.
Investigators said Muggli told them he estimated the totem pole weighed more than 2,900 pounds. Investigators used a certified scale and determined that the 17-foot pine pole weighed 700 pounds.
According to the report of St. Louis County Medical Examiner Thomas Uncini obtained by the News Tribune, the cause of Linda Muggli's death was conclusively determined as severe closed-head trauma.
The cause of that trauma was listed as "blunt trauma from log." Uncini wrote in his report that the manner of the victim's death could not be determined. He also noted that it wasn't known how the injury occurred.
The incident took place in the couple's garage, with the pole resting horizontally about 16 inches off the ground. Muggli told police the pole fell while his back was turned to his wife and he didn't know how she got under it.