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Published February 10, 2014, 08:33 PM

Midstokke, worth $2.3 million, gets public defender to fight charge she killed her husband

Sherry Midstokke, the Finley, N.D., woman charged with murdering her husband, Lyle Midstokke, a week ago, applied for — and was appointed — a public defender Monday, even though she listed assets of more than $2.3 million.

By: Steve Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Sherry Midstokke, the Finley, N.D., woman charged with murdering her husband, Lyle Midstokke, a week ago, applied for — and was appointed — a public defender Monday, even though she listed assets of more than $2.3 million.

In what legal experts say is a first of its kind in the state, Midstokke’s son, David, won a judge’s emergency action last week to freeze his parents' assets so his mother can't spend them on her $500,000 cash bail or on hiring an attorney. The couple has three children.

Midstokke, 61, told a judge last week she planned to hire Bruce Quick, considered one of the state’s best and most expensive criminal defense attorneys to represent her in a case that could put her in prison for life in the death of her husband, who was 66. But Monday she filed an application for a public defender, saying all her assets are tied up pending her trial.

Robin Huseby, head of the state’s public defender forces, said the unusual situation shocked her enough that she immediately asked to judge to review his decision granting Midstokke indigent status.

“It seems to me to be very repugnant that the citizens of North Dakota should foot the bill for someone who clearly can afford an attorney (and wants her own attorney) because her kids don’t want her funds spent,” Huseby told the Herald in an email.

Huseby appointed Blake Hankey, the Grand Forks attorney who holds a public defender contract for Steele and Traill counties.

“The first thing I plan to do is file a motion to change the venue and move the case from Steele County, based on the fact they have both been lifelong residents of the county, to get a fair trial,” Hankey told the Herald Monday.

A prayer service for Lyle Midstokke was scheduled for Monday evening in Finley Lutheran Church.

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