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Couple pleads guilty to brutal Badger, Minn., murder

Jeremy Lemen, left, and Desiree Shinholser

A man and woman have admitted they murdered a neighbor in their Badger, Minn., apartment building on Oct. 5.

Jeremy Lemen, 34, and Desiree Shinholser, 25, pleaded guilty to different forms of second-degree murder in an agreement with prosecutors Wednesday in state district court in Roseau, Minn., forestalling a trial.

Their victim was John William Currier, 31, originally from International Falls, Minn. He lived alone and worked at Polaris Industries, where Lemen previously worked.

The couple is scheduled to be sentenced March 18, and have been in jail since their arrests in October under $1 million bail.

According to investigators, Shinholser told Lemen, with whom she lived, that Currier had attacked her in the hallway of the apartment building, so the couple decided to confront him. After a struggle that left Currier dead and Lemen's face bruised, the couple hid the body in an attic crawl space where it was discovered by Currier's girlfriend the next day.

He had been strangled and hit on and about his head with a hatchet, an autopsy showed.

It was the first murder in Roseau County in a decade. Badger, a town of 370, is 12 miles southwest of Roseau, the county seat.

Pleas differ

Lemen, who moved to the county about four years ago from Arizona, admitted quickly to investigators his role in Currier's killing and hasn't changed his story, County Attorney Karen Foss said.

He strangled Currier with a choke hold so long his arms got tired, while Shinholser helped restrain the victim and hit the victim with a hatchet, Lemen told investigators.

On Wednesday, Lemen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with intention and faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Because he has no serious criminal history, he likely will be sentenced to around 20 years in prison plus 10 years of probation, based on state guidelines, Foss said.

Shinholser, who grew up in the Gatzke, Minn., area, about 30 miles south of Roseau, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder without intention, including aiding and abetting, Foss said.

Because Shinholser has an extensive criminal history, the plea agreement stipulates a sentence of at least 16 years and eight months in prison, Foss said. The criminal history will be used to figure Shinholser's actual sentence next month, the county attorney said.

The maximum sentence is 40 years.

Both Lemen and Shinholser also were ruled jointly liable to pay restitution for funeral and other expenses for Currier, Foss said.