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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Body found near stolen vehicle

No case has more people and events involved than this one (See below).
11-20-2007 Minnesota:

Body, Porsche both burned; man arrested

A suspected sex offender found dead and burned next to a flaming sports car north of Windom was living in Mankato before he was killed, according to the mother of a man who she said was arrested and jailed in Blue Earth County as a result of the murder investigation.

The death of 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa Jr. is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Cottonwood County Sheriff’s Department, the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, said Mike Mauer, Blue Earth County chief deputy.

Samilpa’s death was discovered after a family traveling north for the Thanksgiving holiday saw the car burning near the intersection of Highway 71 and Cottonwood County Road 3 and reported it to the Sheriff’s Department sometime around 1 a.m. Monday, authorities said.

The 1999 Porsche that was found burning next to Samilpa’s partially burned body had been stolen from a house north of Mankato. Another vehicle that had been stolen from the same Lime Valley Road house, a 2000 Lincoln Navigator, was found burning in Watonwan County at 5:17 a.m. Monday, or about four hours after the Porsche fire was reported, authorities said.

“It was the Porsche that was found at the murder scene,” said Doug Storey, Cottonwood County attorney. “Why an attempt was made to burn the body with the car, we don’t know.”

About 15 guns, cash and other items also were missing from the rural Mankato house when that incident was reported by the owners just before 9 p.m. Saturday, a Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department report said.

Hans Paul Hottel, 20, formerly of Windom, was booked into the Blue Earth County Jail on a second-degree murder charge at 10:18 p.m. Monday, according to the jail roster. Capt. Rich Murry of the Sheriff’s Department said Hottel was being transported to Cottonwood County Tuesday night. Murry said he couldn’t comment about the reasons for Hottel’s arrest.

“At this point, our investigation is ongoing and in conjunction with the BCA,” Murry said.

Hottel’s mother, Lita Hottel of Windom, said her son’s arrest was connected to Samilpa’s death. She said her son, who volunteered to serve in the military in Iraq and recently returned from a tour there, lived with Samilpa and other roommates at an apartment in the immediate Mankato area.

“He was his friend and he was his roommate and he was trying to get him a job,” Lita Hottel said, describing her son’s relationship with Samilpa. “Hans was the only one who was arrested because the other ones involved are gone.”

Hans Hottel recently started working at Corporate Graphics in North Mankato and had applied to enroll at Minnesota State University, Lita Hottel said. He plans to start classes next semester if he’s released.

Samilpa was scheduled for trial next month in Nicollet County District Court for a felony charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and a gross misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges were filed on Oct. 17, 2006, two days after a Sleepy Eye woman reported he had raped her at a party at a rural residence about three miles north of North Mankato on Oct. 15, 2006.

About a week after he was charged, Samilpa was released on $25,000 bond. His trial was scheduled to start on Dec. 19 and service papers for several subpoenas that had been issued to potential witnesses for the trial were returned to Nicollet County Tuesday, according to court records.

The victim in that incident was at a party with a friend, also from Sleepy Eye, when she was approached by Samilpa, the criminal complaint said. Samilpa allegedly separated her from her friend, forced her into a car and raped her before leaving with a group of his friends.

She was able to identify Samilpa as the man who attacked her by looking at his picture in a Madelia High School yearbook, the criminal complaint said. ..more.. by Dan Nienaber, Free Press Staff Writer


Witness reaches plea in '07 murder case

1-28-2009 Minnesota:

WINDOM — For his part in a 2007 murder that left 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa Jr. stabbed, shot and burned on a roadside north of Windom, Hans Paul Hottel will pay a fine of $3,000.

In exchange, Hottel, 21, has agreed to become a key witness against three other Mankato men who are now facing first-degree murder charges for the Cottonwood County killing. The men were scheduled to go to trial early this year for the murder, which is directly connected to a burglary near Mankato.

The trials were postponed after a grand jury handed down first-degree murder indictments. Those indictments wouldn’t have happened without Hottel’s cooperation, so it was in the county’s best interest to reach a plea agreement, said Douglas Storey, Cottonwood County attorney.

The agreement was worked out between Hottel’s attorney, Michael Kircher of St. James, and Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Alfred Zdrazil, who is assisting with the prosecution, Storey said.

“It was what the attorney general’s office felt they had to do,” Storey said. “Without someone at the scene who was involved, it was difficult to prove premeditation. We did what we felt we had to do to strengthen our case.”

Hottel was the first suspect arrested and charged after the Nov. 19, 2007, murder. Gerard Irving Holt, 23, Lionel Benavidez, 22, and Axel Rene Kramer, 21, all of Mankato, were arrested and charged later. Holt and Kramer were arrested after being spotted in a car parked at a hotel in Albert Lea. Benavidez was arrested in Texas.

Hottel was arrested in Mankato the same day as investigators found Samilpa’s body next to a burning Porsche 911 car off Highway 71 near Delft, a small community north of Windom. The 1999 sports car and a 2000 Lincoln Navigator, which was found burning in nearby Watonwan County, had both been stolen during the burglary of a Lime Valley Road residence north of Mankato two days earlier.

Hottel became a suspect after investigators learned he had used his credit card at a convenience store in St. James. A surveillance camera showed he used the card to pay for fuel pumped into the Porsche, Navigator and a car Hottel owned. When Hottel’s car was found in Mankato and searched, Samilpa’s wallet was found inside, court records said.

Interviews with Hottel’s roommates in Mankato eventually led to the arrests of the four suspects.

Hottel pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of aiding an offender on Dec. 22. Prosecutors agreed to not request jail or prison time and have charges related to the Blue Earth County burglary dismissed, Storey said.

On Jan. 7, a grand jury was called in Windom to examine the remaining second-degree murder charges against Holt, Benavidez and Kramer. On Jan. 16, four days before Holt was scheduled to go to trial, all three men were indicted for first-degree premeditated murder. The second-degree murder charges, which allege there was intent to kill without premeditation, also remain for the three suspects.

New trial dates have not been set, but Hottel will likely be called as a witness when they do take place, Storey said.

“He is going to be testifying at the trial,” Storey said. “He will be an important witness.”

Both Storey and Kircher said they couldn’t comment on whether Hottel was called to testify before the grand jury. A grand jury indictment is required to file first-degree murder charges in Minnesota.

During the plea hearing, Hottel admitted to driving the three other men back to Mankato after Samilpa’s murder, Kircher said. Hottel also admitted to stopping with the others to burn the Navigator.

A second-degree murder charge that had been filed against Hottel was dismissed in May after Cottonwood County District Court Judge Bruce Gross ruled there wasn’t enough probable cause to justify the charge.

Hottel witnessed the murder, then went along with the others because he was concerned about his own safety, Kircher said.

Hottel also was charged with aiding and abetting the Blue Earth County burglary. Benavidez and Hottel’s 24-year-old brother, Lars, are also facing felony charges for the burglary, which also involved Samilpa, according to court records.

In addition to the two vehicles, a total of 21 handguns, rifles and shotguns; a diamond bracelet and other jewelry; electronics including televisions, DVD players and computers; ammunition; $150 in cash; and passports were allegedly stolen from the house. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber


Man shot in head after breaking clutch on hot Porsche

11-22-2007 Minnesota:

A stolen Porsche, an SUV and firearms led to a killing, questions and an arrest near Windom, Minn.

For breaking the clutch on a stolen Porsche he was driving, Alberto Samilpa Jr.'s conspirators in crime shot him four or five times in the head, stabbed him in the neck and set his body and the car ablaze on a rural highway early Monday.

"It's just sad to think that somebody would kill somebody for that," said Nick Anderson, Cottonwood County assistant county attorney.

Hans P. Hottel, 20, of Mankato has been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding an offender, according to the county attorney's office.

Two other men have been charged via warrant but remained on the lam Wednesday night: Lionel Benavidez, 21, of LeCenter is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding an offender.

Gerald Holt, 23, of Madison Lake is charged with second-degree murder. Holt is also known as Ivan Lopez and "Latin."

A fourth suspect, known only as "Alex," is implicated in the case but has not been arrested or charged, Anderson said.

According to the criminal complaints filed Wednesday:

The Porsche, a sport-utility vehicle and eight firearms were reported stolen from a Mankato home on Nov. 17. The suspects' roommate later told authorities that he saw Samilpa and Holt at their shared Mankato home with firearms and a television.

The next day, Samilpa, Holt, Hottel and others were at the residence, where they talked about moving the stolen vehicles, according to the charges. Hottel was supposed to pick up the five men after they stored the vehicles, Anderson said.

The group stopped to get gas and discovered that Samilpa had somehow broken the Porsche's clutch, angering Holt.

According to the charges, Holt, "Alex" and someone named "Blaze" (Benavidez's nickname) shot Samilpa and burned the car.

Samilpa's body was found at 1:39 a.m. Monday lying on the ground near the car on County Rd. 3 just east of U.S. Hwy. 71.

When Hottel was arrested Monday, he had small stains consistent with blood on his tennis shoes, sweatshirt and T-shirt, according to the complaint.

The county coroner told authorities that Samilpa, who was dead on the scene, was shot at least once in the back of the head and that the bullet came out his right eye socket. Authorities describe Holt as Hispanic, 5' 6" and 185 pounds with brown hair and eyes. Benavidez is Hispanic, 6 feet and 185 pounds with brown hair and eyes. ..Source.. by Chao Xiong , Star Tribune


Murder victim's wallet found


MANKATO — A wallet with identification for a man found shot to death and burned in Cottonwood County Nov. 19 was discovered in a car confiscated in Mankato the following day, according to court documents filed this week in Blue Earth County.

The 1997 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was the same car 20-year-old Hans Hottel allegedly used to drive three other men to Madelia after Alberto Samilpa Jr. was killed and two stolen vehicles were burned. Hottel was arrested the same day as Samilpa’s murder in Mankato. The car was found parked at 429 Warren St. in Mankato, where investigators kept it under surveillance until three juveniles attempted to leave with it Nov. 20, according to a search warrant application.

Investigators had been hoping to catch 22-year-old Gerald Holt, one of three men now charged with murdering Samilpa, with the car. However, the three teens inside told them they had been instructed to pick Holt up at a nearby park. Holt ran from the area before he could be arrested, the affidavit said.

The car was towed to a Blue Earth County evidence garage, then transferred to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Science Laboratory in St. Paul. During a search, BCA agent Micheal Anderson found Samilpa’s wallet, blood stains, a gas can, .22-caliber cartridges, a laptop computer, jewelry and other items in the car, the affidavit said. Tread impressions also were taken from the car’s four tires.

Samilpa was found dead after travelers reported seeing a burning car off Highway 71 north of Windom at 1:30 a.m. Nov. 19. The flaming Porsche 911 found next to Samilpa’s burned body had been stolen from a house on Lime Valley Road north of Mankato on Nov. 17. A 2000 Lincoln Navigator, stolen during the same burglary, was found burning in Watonwan County about four hours later.

Hottel was arrested later that day after investigators identified him through a credit card that was used to buy gas for the Porsche, Navigator and Oldsmobile in St. James. The investigation shifted to Mankato after Hottel’s mother, Estralitta Hottel of Windom, told BCA investigators he was living there.

They later learned Hottel, Samilpa and Holt were living together in the Mankato apartment. A fourth roommate, Colt Bergendahl, told them his roommates and two other men had been planning to move the two stolen vehicles on Nov. 18, and Hottel was going to pick them up in his Oldsmobile so he could bring the men back to Mankato.

The two other men were later identified as 20-year-old Axel Rene Kramer of New Ulm and 21-year-old Lionel Benavidez of Le Center. Holt and Kramer have each been charged with second-degree murder. Hottel and Benavidez have each been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Holt, Kramer and 18-year-old Aimee Jo Palmer, charged as an accomplice after the fact, were arrested in Albert Lea on Nov. 23. Benavidez was arrested in Crystal City, Texas, on Nov. 24.

During interviews with suspects and witnesses, investigators were told Samilpa was shot and stabbed after he broke the clutch on the Porsche. His body was burned along with the Porsche, then the Navigator was driven into Watonwan County and burned. The four men allegedly stopped at a Madelia apartment to get rid of bloody clothing before splitting up, court records said.

The affidavit filed Wednesday also includes a list of all the known property stolen from Richard Kakeldey’s residence at 23525 Lime Valley Road.

The items stolen included a total of 21 handguns, rifles and shotguns; a diamond bracelet and other jewelry; electronics including televisions, DVD players and computers; ammunition; $150 cash; and passports. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber


Gun stash linked to car theft-murder

12-13-2007 Minnesota:

MANKATO — Guns and other valuables stolen during a burglary related to a murder in Cottonwood County last month were found last week at a house in Mankato.

The house at 626 N. Fifth St. was searched Dec. 4 after Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department Detective Paul Barta received a tip from Denise Rients, a probation officer with the county. Rients reported that one of her clients, 30-year-old Bradley Scott Junker, told her he had been asked to store a stolen Porsche at the house for people involved in the Nov. 17 burglary of a Lime Valley Road house north of Mankato.

The Porsche stolen during that burglary was found burning in Cottonwood County at about 1:30 a.m. Nov. 19. The body of 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa Jr. of Mankato was found next to the car. He had been shot in the head, stabbed in the throat and burned.

Investigators were no longer looking for the Porsche but reported finding at Junker’s house several handguns, ammunition, a 46-inch plasma television, computers and other items matching the description of items stolen in the burglary. They also found an address book with a business card for lawyer Richard Kakeldey, the owner of the house burglarized, court records said.

Samilpa, 22-year-old Gerald Holt and brothers Lars John Hottel, 23, and Hans Hottel, 20, were identified as suspects in the burglary, according to the search warrant affidavit citing probable cause to search Junker’s house.

Hans Hottel, Holt and two other men, 20-year-old Axel Kramer of New Ulm and 21-year-old Lionel Benavidez of Le Center, were identified as suspects in Samilpa’s murder. Kramer and Holt have been charged with second-degree murder. Hans Hottel and Benavidez have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday for the burglary.

On Dec. 4, Junker allegedly told Rients he had heard about Samilpa’s murder after being asked to store the Porsche. He told her he hadn’t heard back from the people involved in the burglary since the murder and was concerned about being hurt by the suspects or getting into trouble with police. Rients told Junker to report the information to the Sheriff’s Department just before 10 a.m. When the search warrant request was being made more than two hours later, no report had been made, Barta reported.

Junker’s house was searched about six hours after he met with Rients. Investigators originally planned to search a house across the street, but realized they had the wrong house when they called Junker on his cell phone shortly before executing the search.

Junker was released from prison a year ago after serving four years behind bars for selling methamphetamine in Cottonwood County. He was scheduled to remain on supervised release through Oct. 10, 2008. Junker is in the Blue Earth County Jail on a Minnesota Department of Corrections hold.

Investigators actually had a cellular telephone number that would have led them to Junker Nov. 23, the day Kramer and Holt were arrested in Albert Lea. Kramer told an agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that Holt had taken his cell phone from him shortly before their arrest, the search warrant affidavit said. He told the agent Holt called someone named “Brad” and told him to “keep the guns as an early Christmas present.”

Kramer also told investigators Holt had removed the guns from a residence in the 100 block of State Street and moved them to another location in Mankato.

On Nov. 30, investigators received a search warrant to check the record of phone numbers on Kramer’s cell phone. A call to someone identified on the phone as “Brad Jay” was made at 3:37 p.m. on Nov. 23.

A subpoena requesting information about the number listed for “Brad Jay” was sent to Alltel, but the cell phone company had not responded before investigators received the report about Junker from Rients, court records said. Rients reported Junker’s cell phone number was the same as the one found on Kramer’s phone. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber


Another plea deal reached in murder after Porsche theft

1-4-2010 Minnesota:

Holt to serve 30 years in prison for 2007 case involving stolen, burned cars, murder of accomplice

WINDOM — Prosecutors have reached a plea deal with the second of four Mankato men arrested in 2007 after a fifth man was found shot to death and burned with a stolen Porsche.

Gerard Irving Holt, 24, will serve 30 years in prison according to a plea agreement reached in Cottonwood County District Court last week. He pleaded guilty to murdering 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa on Nov. 19, 2007, and leaving his body next to a burning Porsche 911 that had been stolen from a residence north of Mankato.

A Lincoln Navigator that had been stolen from the same residence was found burning in Watonwan County later the same day. Holt was arrested along with Hans Hottel, 22; Axel Rene Kramer, 22; and Lionel Benavidez, 23; after surveillance video from a St. James convenience store showed Hottel had used his credit card to purchase fuel for the stolen vehicles and his own car. When Hottel’s car was found in Mankato, it was searched and Samilpa’s wallet was found inside, court records said.

Witnesses later told investigators the suspects said Samilpa was stabbed, shot and burned because he had broken the clutch on the Porsche.

Hottel was arrested in Mankato shortly after his car was found. Holt and Kramer were arrested after being spotted in a car parked at an Albert Lea hotel. Benavidez was arrested in Texas. Authorities had launched a nationwide manhunt for the men after they became suspects in the murder.

In exchange for Holt’s guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second charge of first-degree murder. They also agreed not to oppose Holt’s request that he serve his sentence in an Indiana prison. His sentence will run concurrently to a sentence he will receive for a burglary conviction in Blue Earth County, which is related to the vehicle thefts.

Trials have not been scheduled for Kramer and Benavidez, who are still facing first-degree murder charges. Both men had originally been charged with second-degree murder, but the charges were increased to first-degree murder shortly after Hottel reached a plea deal in December 2008.

Hottel pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of aiding an offender on Dec. 22, 2008, and was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. In exchange for Hottel’s plea and promise to testify against the remaining defendants, prosecutors agreed to not request jail time.

Without Hottel’s cooperation, prosecutors would not have been able to get the grand jury indictments required by Minnesota law for the first-degree murder charges.

“Without someone at the scene who was involved, it was difficult to prove premeditation,” Cottonwood County Attorney Douglas Story said after Hottel’s plea. “We did what we felt we had to do to strengthen our case.”

Hottel was arrested on Nov. 2 in Anoka County for an unrelated incident. He has been charged in that county with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of the legal process. A trial has been scheduled for June 28. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber


Holt gets 30 years for Samilpa murder

2-5-2010 Minnesota:

MANKATO — A former Mankato man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in a 2007 murder in Cottonwood County.

Gerard Irving Holt, 24, was sentenced Thursday for killing 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa and attempting to burn Samilpa’s body with a stolen Porsche.

Holt, who pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder on Dec. 28, is the second of five suspects arrested after the murder to enter a plea.

The Porsche 911 had been stolen from a residence north of Mankato. It was found burning with Samilpa’s body on a road near Delft, a small town north of Windom on Highway 71, on Nov. 19, 2007. A Lincoln Navigator stolen from the same residence was found burning in rural Watonwan County later that day.

Hans Hottel, 22, was arrested in Mankato after he was identified as the person who paid to fuel the stolen vehicles and his own car in St. James. Hottel, who testified he witnessed the murder, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of aiding an offender in December 2008. He promised to testify at the trials for Holt and the others in exchange for no jail time.

With Hottel’s testimony, prosecutors were able to charge Holt, 24-year-old Lionel Benavidez and 22-year-old Axel Rene Kramer with first-degree murder. Benavidez and Kramer are scheduled to go to trial in June.

A woman who was arrested outside a hotel in Albert Lea with Holt and Kramer, 20-year-old Aimee Jo Palmer of Eagle Lake, also is scheduled to go to trial in June for felony charges of aiding an offender. The three were arrested after investigators put out a statewide notice saying they were wanted for their connection to Samilpa’s murder.

Benavidez was arrested later in Texas after investigators found him there.

Holt’s sentence for the murder will run concurrent with a 38-month prison sentence he received in July in Blue Earth County for an aiding and abetting burglary conviction. That charge stemmed from the burglary where the burned vehicles were stolen along with jewelry, electronics and cash. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber


Convicted murderer returns to Mankato to face burglary charges

6-5-2010 Minnesota:

MANKATO — A Mankato man who was sentenced to 24 years in prison Monday for a November 2007 murder in Cottonwood County made a stop in Blue Earth County Tuesday before going to the correctional facility in St. Cloud.

At the request of Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Chris Rovney, Axel Rene Kramer will be staying at the jail in Mankato for awhile.

Kramer, 23, was scheduled to go to trial this month for murdering 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa Jr. on Nov. 18, 2007. The trial was canceled in March after he reached a plea deal.

Samilpa’s body, which had been both shot and stabbed, was found north of Windom next to a Porsche sports car that had been stolen from a residence north of Mankato. A Lincoln Navigator stolen from the same residence also was found in nearby Watonwan County.

Four men were charged with murdering Samilpa after investigators learned Hans Paul Hottel of Mankato, who was 20 years old at the time, had used a credit card to purchase gas for his car and the two stolen vehicles. Hottel later pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was fined. He also became the witness prosecutors needed to file first-degree murder charges against the remaining three men, including Kramer.

All three men have since reached plea agreements that reduced the charge to second-degree murder again.

Kramer appeared in Blue Earth County District Court Tuesday for felony charges related to taking the vehicles and other valuables from the residence outside Mankato. Rovney asked District Court Judge George Harrelson to set bail for Kramer as a technicality. Rovney said Kramer had no chance of being released, but setting bail would keep him from being turned over to the Department of Corrections.

It’s cheaper for the state to keep Kramer in Blue Earth County than to keep him at the prison in St. Cloud, then transfer him to court hearings, Rovney said.

“It’s a roundabout way, but we’ll save the court money,” he said.

Rovney expects the case to be resolved quickly. Whatever sentence Kramer receives for the Mankato burglary will run concurrently with the prison sentence he received for Samilpa’s murder. That’s required by state law, Rovney said.

The remaining two men also have been sentenced for the murder.

Lionel Benavidez, 24, of Mankato was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May for the murder. He has not yet appeared for the burglary charges.

Gerard Irving Holt, 24, of Mankato pleaded guilty to the burglary charges about a year ago and was sentenced to three years in prison. He pleaded guilty to the murder charge in February and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The victims of the burglary are requesting restitution. One man has filed a claim saying he lost more than $41,000. Another victim estimated his loss at $2,000 for an insurance deductible, and his insurance company is estimating losses at nearly $54,000, court records said. ..Source.. by Dan Nienaber

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