Judge James Bayorgeon
Just days after getting bad news from the parole board, Keith Kutska, one of six men convicted in 1995 of a paper mill murder, will get a chance to argue for a new trial.
Kuska, 64, claims he should get a new trial because the possibility that the victim, Tom Monfils, could have committed suicide wasn’t sufficiently argued at the trial.
Monfils’ body was found in 1992 in a paper vat at the former James River Mill. He had a 50-pound weight tied around his neck.
Kutska’s new lawyers, who are working with the Minnesota Innocence Project, claim they have information that Monfils’ widow initially told family members she thought Monfils had committed suicide. That information was never shared with the defendants, their lawyers or the jury, the new lawyers claim.
They also claim Monfils was depressed about a troubled marriage and from realizing he was on the outs with Kutska and other co-workers for reporting that Kutska had stolen electrical wire from the mill.
They also claim lawyers at the time of the trial mistakenly accepted a pathologist’s assertion that bruises on Monfils’ body were indisputable proof he was injured before he went into the vat. Such bruises can be developed posthumously, the new lawyers claim.
Retired Judge James Bayorgeon, who heard the case in 1995, has agreed to an evidentiary hearing at which the lawyers can present and develop their arguments.