A 30-year-old Northfield man implicated in a series of burglaries and dog killings in has pleaded not guilty.
According to the amended criminal complaint, Matthew David Jensen faces 10 felony charges: Five for burglary, four for torturing animals, and one charge of fifth-degree drug possession. On June 14, he pleaded not guilty to all.
The charges stem from a series of break-ins and that occurred in spring:
• The first incident occurred on May 7. A resident on the 400 block of 6th Street South took her Maltese poodle to the vet after it was found unconscious and bleeding from the mouth and eye socket. A phone charger and Kindle Fire were taken from the house.
• Around noon on May 8, a couple in the 700 block of College Street came home and found their two miniature Schnauzers dead. The assailant had also taken $120 in state quarters and rifled through their jewelry. A veterinarian at the University of Minnesota later examined the dogs, and found that one seemed to have been strangled, but the cause of death was severe blunt force trauma to the abdomen. The other dog died of internal bleeding after being stabbed twice in the back.
• That same day, May 8, the Northfield Police Department was dispatched to another address on College Street South, this time in the 500 block. The house had been burglarized between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. A Mac Computer and an Amazon Kindle were missing, but the thief left behind a bag of state quarters, presumably from the other crime scene.
Three witnesses independently reported that a man matching Jensen's description had been lurking around the neighborhood at the time. Two of them had actual encounters with the man. In each case, the man knocked on the door and asked after his lost cat, Blinkers. The witnesses say the man seemed shaky and nervous, and would not look them in the eye when talking.
• On May 9, a woman in the 200 block of East 6th Street called police after she returned home and found her Chinese Crested Powder Puff dead on the kitchen floor. Another dog was in the kennel upstairs, unharmed but very frightened. A veterinarian concluded that the dog had died of blunt force trauma. The woman further reported that on the previous day a man had knocked on her front door and said he was looking for his cat.
Jensen was apprehended on May 10. During a subsequent search of his home on Washington Street police found a baggie containing heroin.
In a post-Miranda statement, he admitted that he'd just used heroin. During the interview, police say that Jensen cried intermittently and frequently expressed remorse, if only in vague terms, saying that he "felt terrible didn't mean for any of it to happen."
However, Jensen called official accounts into question in a handwritten note to the judge, filed on June 7.
"There were multiple, four I believe, break-ins only a few blocks away from the ones I'm being accused of after I was already in custody, the night after in fact," Jensen wrote in a letter requesting a reduction in bail.
The court denied his request. He remains in custody at the Rice County Jail, held on a $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 9. If the state and the defense do not come to an agreement that day, Jensen is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 16.