The long-awaited trial of a Chisago County man accused in the death of Danielle Jelinek could begin Monday, if remaining disputes over the admission of evidence are resolved.
Aaron Schnagl, now 31, will get his day in court more than two years after he was indicted on a third-degree murder charge for allegedly causing Jelinek’s death by providing her with illegal drugs.
Her family reported her missing on Dec. 9, 2012. Five months later, her body was found in a shallow slough near a rural cul-de-sac in Chisago County, about a quarter-mile east of Schnagl’s home.
The 27-year-old Jelinek, who lived in Oakdale, had grown up in Cottage Grove and was a manager at the Wells Fargo branch bank in Maplewood.
Schnagl, who has been serving time in prison on drug charges, was present in the courtroom last week for jury selection. Chisago County prosecutors Nick Hydukovich and Ryan Flynn wanted to start their opening statements after the jury was empaneled, but defense attorney Melvin Welch objected.
Welch told District Judge Todd Schoffelman that he didn’t want the jury to “ruminate” over the weekend about accusations against Schnagl, and he argued that opening statements should be delayed until Monday, when he could subsequently call witnesses to begin a “factual basis” in defense of his client.
Schoffelman agreed, but he denied Welch’s request to move the trial to another county.
Welch asked for the change of venue — the second time he’s done so — because he said news coverage of Jelinek’s death and charges against Schnagl had “tainted” the jury pool.
But Hydukovich said that “nothing the least prejudicial” had been reported and that online stories about the case would be available to anyone in Minnesota.
Welch also raised concerns about prosecution evidence he said had just come to his attention. That matter will be reviewed in court Monday.
The trial could last two weeks or more.