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Convicted murderer claims lawyer made mistakes in trial

Dennis Gaede

Convicted killer says attorney didn't allow him to testify

A former Gardner, N.D., man convicted of killing and butchering his friend in 2001 was back in court Wednesday, testifying that his former attorney made multiple mistakes and failed to present evidence that shows his ex-wife is actually to blame.

Dennis Gaede testified in detail for roughly five hours in Cass County District Court during an evidentiary hearing in his quest to have a judge grant him a new trial or throw out his 2006 conviction. Gaede, 45, is serving a life sentence without parole for Timothy Wicks' December 2001 death at Gaede's home.

During his testimony Wednesday, Gaede stated that an entirely different picture would have been painted at trial if his attorney had allowed him to testify.

"There were things in this case that never came out," Gaede said, adding he "absolutely" wanted to take the stand.

"I never had the chance to tell my side of the story," Gaede said. He didn't take the stand during the trial, which was the center of a failed 2007 appeal.

Gaede listed several witnesses he believes should have testified during his trial, including multiple people to whom he says his ex-wife, Diana Fruge, confessed to killing Wicks.

Gaede said his former attorney, Steve Mottinger of Fargo, failed to call those witnesses and others who would call into question Fruge's credibility. Fruge testified during the trial that Gaede shot Wicks before dismembering him,

"Mr. Mottinger made her out to be a liar on the stand, but I think we could have gone a lot further," Gaede said.

Gaede noted that Fruge once called him her "knight in shining armor" to one of the individuals he says should have been called, saying that person could have discredited what Fruge said at trial.

"If I was some sadistic killer as she claimed, how could this possibly be," Gaede said. "

Gaede testified that Mottinger did not properly cross-examine witnesses, saying Mottinger missed contradictory statements that Gaede has since noticed after reviewing the case. Gaede also said Mottinger should have hired an expert witness, stating the state's case against him had major flaws.

Gaede argued that financial records and phone records would show that he did not steal Wicks' identity, as the state alleged as a motive, but borrowed it temporarily.

"Timothy Wicks gave that identity to me to use," Gaede said. "He was helping me out."

Gaede will testify again in July when the hearing resumes. Mottinger is also expected to testify.