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Continued: 'She is dead. I put 3 bullets in her head.'

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 15, 2008 - 1:36 AM

A Woodbury man shot his 19-year-old Maplewood girlfriend three times over an apparent breakup and then called his wife to tell her of the slaying, according to criminal charges filed Tuesday in Hudson, Wis.

Christopher S. Ledesma, 29, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of Kelly Lynn Dahm. She was found dead the night of Sept. 20, slumped in the front passenger seat of Ledesma's car in the main parking lot of the St. Croix County Government Center in Hudson.

Ledesma was on parole from a Wisconsin prison where he was held for four years after attacking two young men and a boy with a knife in Somerset, Wis., in 1996, when he was 16 years old. His parole has been revoked because as a convicted felon he couldn't carry a weapon, authorities have said.

Tuesday's charges sketch an eerie tale that began as early as 2:25 p.m. that day, when a man who'd taken his son to a batting cage across the street from the government center reported hearing three popping noises, followed by a fourth a few seconds later. Witness Michael Bowers later told police he saw an angry man dressed in black clothes storming around a black car and glaring in his direction. Bowers felt unsafe and left with his son, the criminal complaint said.

The government center was closed that day, a Saturday, and the parking lot was otherwise empty.

Wife was at boyfriend's

Ledesma's wife, Danielle, told police that her husband called about 4 p.m. that afternoon while she was at her boyfriend's house in Fond du Lac, Wis. "She is dead. I put three bullets in her head," he told his wife, according to the criminal complaint filed in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

Danielle Ledesma bought a handgun on Sept. 6 in Woodbury. She lent it to her husband two days before the shooting, and it was the same gun recovered the night he was arrested, according to the complaint.

Traci Haines, a Hudson police officer, discovered Dahm's body in the car about 10:40 p.m. after Ledesma was arrested during a disturbance at his parents' house in Woodbury when he was drunk and waving a handgun. He told Woodbury police that he had shot Dahm, according to Tuesday's complaint. Woodbury police said they found three spent bullet casings in his front pocket and another in a .38 caliber revolver.

Ledesma was charged in Washington County after that incident with one felony count of possession of a weapon by an ineligible person and two felony counts of terroristic threats. He remains in the Washington County jail, where he's made "spontaneous utterances" connecting him with Dahm's killing, the St. Croix County complaint said. "I'm not a cheater. I loved her," he said at one point.

Police described Ledesma and Dahm as having an "on-again, off-again" romantic relationship. Her parents told a Hudson police detective that she was trying to break off her relationship with Ledesma. Dahm, a Maplewood resident, had completed a year of study at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and had graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale in 2007.

An autopsy by the Ramsey County medical examiner showed she died from a gunshot to the left side of her head, the complaint said. She also was shot twice in the upper torso.

Dangers seen in 1996

Ledesma pleaded no contest on Oct. 9, 1996, to two counts of felony reckless injury after stabbing three people at the Apple River Hideaway campground in Somerset, Wis. According to documents in St. Croix County Circuit Court:

The crime happened late on the evening of June 6, 1996, when young people were gathered around campfires. Ledesma, who thought that he had been wronged, pulled a folding knife. He stabbed one victim on his forearm, a wound that required 100 stitches. He stabbed another on the left hand, severing arteries and tendons. A third victim, a boy, was stabbed in the back, left wrist and right index finger.

Ledesma served four years of a six-year term in Dodge Correctional Institution for two counts of first-degree reckless injury.

Psychologist James Gilbertson, who examined Ledesma in June 1996, testified in the trial that Ledesma "is hugely chemically dependent for someone so young. ... He's been on cocaine and he's been on marijuana and a lot of alcohol."

A condition of Ledesma's parole was that he avoid alcohol and other mind-altering substances.

Without alcohol, Gilbertson concluded, Ledesma "is not a dangerous individual." But with alcohol, the psychologist testified, comes "actual rage, where he wants to get in people's faces, or he acts in a provocative manner, to almost set up confrontations. He's a completely different individual when he drinks."

Kevin Giles • 651-298-1554

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