McDonough pleads innocent to murder charge

McDonough pleads innocent to murder charge by David Lias A Vermillion man charged with the Aug. 11 stabbing death of his neighbor, Mark Paulson, has pleaded innocent to second degree murder.

Chaske McDonough, 20, was arraigned in Clay County Circuit Court on Friday, Aug. 30.

A Clay County grand jury indicted McDonough on Thursday, Aug. 29 and he has been imprisoned in the county jail on $100,000 bond.

Judge Arthur Rusch delayed a decision on reducing McDonough's bond. Defense attorney Phil Peterson wants the bond reduced to $50,000. But Clay County State's Attorney Tami Bern said she will fight any effort to release the defendant.

Peterson noted that McDonough's mother is planning to move to Vermillion from Red Wing, MN, and wants his bond lowered so that he can stay with her and receive treatment before the trial.

"The judge didn't even have me respond to the request," Bern said. "He said he wasn't even going to consider that until she's actually living here."

McDonough's initial court appearance � a preliminary advisement of his rights � was held Aug. 17 in Yankton. He had been arrested earlier that day in Vermillion.

At his preliminary advisement hearing, McDonough was advised of his rights to counsel and the maximum penalties of the charges against him.

"Within 15 days of that preliminary arraignment, by law you either have a preliminary hearing and a bind over order, or else have a grand jury indictment," Bern said. "We presented to the grand jury on Aug. 29, and he was indicted that day, and we had the formal circuit court arraignment on Aug. 30.

"McDonough was advised of his rights once more at the Aug. 30 hearing, and Judge Rusch set his trial date, the motion hearings dates, and the discover deadline, so that's all established," she said.

McDonough's trial is scheduled to run from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24. "Hopefully it won't take that long, and they (the jury) won't be deliberating on Christmas Eve," Bern said. "It's possible that we may get things done quicker than scheduled in the first week."

The discovery deadline is Oct. 15. By that day, Bern must have all of her discoverable evidence to the defense. "I'll be giving them a transcript of the confession, results of the forensic scene, results of fingerprint and footprint analysis, autopsy results � everything," she said.

Jury selection will begin Dec. 16. Bern admits she doesn't know how long that process may take.

"I've never had it last more than a day, but I've never had a murder trial, either," she said.

According to search warrant documents filed with the Clay County clerk of courts office Aug. 22, McDonough admitted to Clay County Deputy Sheriff Andy Howe that he stabbed Paulson, mortally wounding him.

Paulson's body was discovered after Vermillion police responded to a 911 call to his home at approximately 9:20 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Lamplighter Trailer Court, located at 108 E. Cherry Street.

An autopsy conducted in St. Paul, MN determined that Paulson was killed in his home.

In an interview conducted Aug. 16, McDonough told Howe that he and his friends were drinking alcohol in a trailer located directly north of Paulson's residence.

McDonough admitted that he threw a beer container at Paulson's trailer, apparently breaking a window. Paulson came out of his trailer and confronted McDonough, and later invited McDonough into his trailer to discuss the broken window.

McDonough said he and Paulson began fighting

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inside the trailer. He said Paulson briefly held him down, and he punched Paulson. As the fight continued, McDonough said he eventually stabbed Paulson, mortally wounding him.

After the fight, McDonough returned to his apartment at #101 112 East Cherry Street.

He was arrested at his apartment by local law enforcement Aug. 16.

Law enforcement requested and were granted a warrant to search McDonough's premises for shoes, clothing, or any other objects which may contain blood, tissue, hair, or other evidence from the crime scene.

The search warrant document states that "during a forensic investigation of the crime scene, criminalists from the state forensic lab located evidence in the form of shoe prints, finger prints, blood, palm prints, certain impressionistic lacerations on the victim's body and other physical evidence believed left or incurred by the perpetrator."

The inventory of items taken from McDonough's apartment following the execution of the search warrant includes several items of clothing, including tennis shoes, and three pieces of a broken knife found in a kitchen garbage can.

Second degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

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