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Experts testify at trial

NEW ULM — A number of expert state’s witnesses testified in Brown County District Court Wednesday at a jury trial for a 60-year-old St. James man accused of murdering his wife and step daughter and assaulting his step grandson with a dangerous weapon in June 2018.

Scott F. Engelbrecht allegedly fatally shot his wife Joyce Engelbrecht during a June 16, 2018, argument in their St. James home on their wedding anniversary. He then allegedly followed his stepdaughter Rachel Linder outside and shot her to death.

Engelbrecht faces two premeditated murder charges, two counts of second-degree murder with intent and a second-degree assault charge for allegedly pointing a gun at his step grandson, Dillion Mathias.

Engelbrecht remains in the Brown County Jail. His bail was set at $4 million.

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, forensic pathologist Dr. Peter Lin testified to the state that he performed an autopsy on Joyce Engelbrecht and described 12 photos taken of her during the autopsy.

Lin said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, that a bullet fragmented in her skull and the manner of death was homicide.

The defense argued that sometimes people get hurt at the hospital during resuscitation efforts.

Lin testified that he saw bruises that appeared to be marks from hand-gripping and documented multiple bruising injuries on Joyce Engelbrecht.

Travis Melland, a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) forensic scientist, identified the Remington 510 .22-caliber rifle seized in the backyard of one of Scott Engelbrecht’s neighbors the evening of the alleged murder. Melland identified cartridges from the gun that were also seized as case evidence.

Other BCA staff testified about the details of processing procedures for blood, DNA, fingerprinting and ammunition tested in BCA crime in the case.

BCA Crime Scene team leader Ross Thomas testified to the state that he took DNA samples of Scott and Joyce Engelbrecht, Linder and Mathias. Thomas testified that lasers and computer software are used to create DNA profiles.

Public defenders argued that DNA testing doesn’t show when or how DNA or blood got on the .22 rifle allegedly used by Scott Engelbrecht or on pistols owned by the two women shot to death.

Mayo Clinic Rochester neurology doctor Jennifer Fugate testified that Joyce Engelbrecht arrived at Mayo in a coma, did not have brain stem reflexes, had brain bleeding and compression.

“The medical surgery team determined there was nothing medically we could do to improve her condition,” Fugate testified. “We did a brain death exam, then a detailed exam. She was pronounced clinically brain dead.”

The jury trail continues at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Brown County District Courtroom.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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