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Harley David Leritz

Omnibus hearing in murder case pushed back to May 16

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By Sarah Smith

The omnibus hearing for a Menahga man charged in the death last month of a Park Rapids woman will be May 16.

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Harley David Leritz appeared in Hubbard County District Court Monday.

His public defender, Paul Thompson, asked for an extension in the case saying that “the autopsy information (for Kiela Gem Knowles) is not ready for four to six weeks.”

Leritz, 21, is charged with the Second Degree strangulation death of Knowles, 19, at her Park Rapids apartment.

Leritz agreed to waive the speedy trial requirements and wait for crucial BCA reports in the case.

Knowles’ death was investigated by Park Rapids police, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Those reports are not in yet, Thompson told Judge Robert Tiffany.

Many of Knowles’ family members attended Monday’s hearing.

Tiffany asked Leritz, who did not speak at the hearing, if he agreed to waive any time limits “given the gravity of the situation and reports your attorney expects to receive.”

Leritz nodded and said, “Yes.”

He is charged with the homicide and a probation violation, for allegedly violating the conditions of his release in a 2012 Criminal Sexual Conduct charge.

That charge is tracking along with the murder charge.

Knowles was taken to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Preliminary findings indicated she died of strangulation.

Second-degree murder, punishable by 40 years in prison, is defined as causing “the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation.”

Leritz is being held without bond on the parole violation. Bond was set at $1.5 million unconditional and $1 million with numerous conditions on the murder charge.

He remains in the Hubbard County Correctional Center.

Once again, there was tight security around the courthouse and jail as Leritz was led in by armed guards.

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Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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