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Published July 05, 2012, 12:12 PM

Evidence OK'd in Northern MN Totem Pole Murder Case

A Koochiching County man accused of using a totem pole to murder his wife was unsuccessful in his attempt to suppress evidence gathered against him.

By: Mark Stodghill, Forum Communications

A Koochiching County man accused of using a totem pole to murder his wife was unsuccessful in his attempt to suppress evidence gathered against him.

Carl Chester Muggli, 50, of Ray is charged with intentional second-degree murder in the Nov. 26, 2010, death of his 61-year-old wife, Linda, who died of head trauma. The couple operated a totem pole-carving business and the defendant said the log they were carving fell on her. Investigators said that Muggli told conflicting versions of what happened and they were unable to re-create the incident as he described it to them.

Muggli asked the court to suppress evidence obtained from the execution of search warrants that were used to seize and search his computers because he claimed the evidence was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. Judge Charles LeDuc, who is chambered in International Falls, denied the request.

The court also denied Muggli’s motions to suppress evidence obtained from a search of his alleged lover’s AOL e-mail account and to suppress his statements to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents.

Koochiching County Attorney Jeffrey Naglosky said that Muggli is free from jail but is subject to GPS monitoring. The defendant can’t leave Koochiching or St. Louis counties without permission of the court. No date has been set for his trial or his next court appearance.

Because Naglosky has only a two-person office to handle all of the legal matters for his county, he sought the assistance of the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, which handles cases at the request of local prosecutors.

Not much has happened in the case since the hearing to contest the evidence was held on Dec. 1, and LeDuc issued his recent order nearly seven months later. Assistant Attorney General Alfred Zdrazil, first assigned to prosecute the case, no longer works in the attorney general’s office. He was replaced as lead prosecutor by Assistant Attorney General Robert Plesha. Neither Plesha nor defense attorney Charles Hawkins returned phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Charges were brought against Muggli after investigators learned of an Alabama woman who allegedly carried on intimate and romantic Facebook conversations with Muggli. The woman told a Koochiching County sheriff’s deputy that she was on the phone with the defendant on the day his wife died and she heard him arguing with his wife about getting a divorce. The woman said Muggli called her back 30 minutes later and told her an accident had happened and emergency medical technicians were working on his wife.

The defendant was arrested on June 7 of last year in Stockdale, Texas, where he had moved after his wife’s death.

Investigators said that Muggli told them he estimated the totem pole weighed more than 2,900 pounds. Investigators used a certified scale and determined that the 17-foot pine pole weighed 700 pounds.

According to the report of St. Louis County Medical Examiner Thomas Uncini obtained by the News Tribune, the cause of Linda Muggli’s death was conclusively determined as severe closed head trauma. The cause of that trauma was listed as “blunt trauma from log.” He wrote in his report that the manner of the victim’s death cannot be determined. He further noted that it is unknown how the injury occurred.