Minnesota woman charged with shooting estranged husband in sauna
CARLTON, Minn. - A Cloquet woman was charged in State District Court in Carlton on Tuesday with attempted murder in the first degree in the shooting of her estranged husband.
Marie Margaret Majerle, 36, is accused of going to the Cloquet home of her husband, Richard Alan Majerle, 38, early Sunday and, after they had spent some time together, confronting him in the sauna with a semi-automatic rifle.
Marie Majerle is also charged with removing or altering a serial number on a firearm.
Richard Majerle was listed in serious condition at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center on Monday. On Tuesday, an Essentia spokeswoman said Majerle was not on St. Mary's patient list.
Investigators said they learned that Richard and Marie Majerle were either separated or in the process of being divorced and had exchanged text messages earlier that evening regarding their minor children. It was clear from those messages that the defendant was upset with the victim before going to his residence, the criminal complaint said.
Also according to the criminal complaint:
Cloquet police officers responded to a 911 call about a shooting from a home in the 1200 block of Slate Street about 5:50 a.m. Sunday and approached the home armed with long guns. After about 30 seconds, officers saw an adult male and female exit the residence and they ordered both to show their hands and get on the ground.
Officers approached and observed that Richard Majerle appeared to have a gunshot wound in his upper chest. They immediately took Marie Majerle into custody. Emergency personnel took Richard Majerle to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet for medical treatment.
Officers later found a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle leaning against the wall of the garage next to the home.
According to the complaint, Richard Majerle told police on the way to the hospital that he had been in bed asleep when he heard a knock on the door about 3 a.m. and found his estranged wife at the door. He said she asked to come in and he allowed her in.
The couple talked, and at some point decided to go to sleep. About 5 a.m., Marie Majerle asked Richard Majerle to start the sauna, which he agreed to do, the complaint said. Then she told him she needed to leave temporarily to get some medication.
Richard Majerle told police that his wife returned to the sauna after about five minutes, opened the door and raised a .22 rifle toward him. He flinched; at the same time, the complaint said, Marie Majerle shot her husband, wounding him in the upper-left chest area.
According to the complaint, Marie Majerle dropped the rifle but remained at the home as Richard Majerle searched for his cell phone and called 911.
According the complaint, Marie Majerle took the phone away from him when he was making the call. Jail 911 tapes show there was an initial call from Richard Majerle and then a hang-up.
Majerle's condition at the Cloquet hospital began to deteriorate and he was transferred to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.
In court Tuesday, Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said Richard Majerle had submitted written testimony in addition to his testimony in the ambulance and might be released as soon as this weekend.
Marie Majerle initially told police she thought the weapon was a pellet gun and she was trying to play a joke on her husband, according to the complaint. However, officers said they found a .22-caliber ammunition box in the front seat of her car, which matched the ammunition in the still-loaded gun.
Detectives determined the rifle was a 1955 semi-automatic .22-caliber weapon. There was a fresh mark on the side of the weapon where the serial numbers had been ground down. Officers were able to find a concealed serial number after dismantling the weapon, the complaint said.
Bail for Marie Majerle was set at $180,000. Judge Dale Wolf granted her application for a public defender and issued a restraining order mandating she have no contact with Richard Majerle. Her next hearing was set for 9 a.m. Wednesday. Majerle has one prior conviction for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.