Limited details unfold during Kruse bail hearing
WORTHINGTON - Bail was set Monday at $250,000 with conditions for Christopher Kruse, age 46, of Worthington, who was indicted Friday for the 2015 murder of his wife Janette Pigman-Kruse of Brewster.
Janette died on August 19, 2015 from a gunshot wound to the chest. Chris Kruse allegedly called 911 shortly before 3 a.m. to say someone had shot his wife while the two of them were in bed sleeping.
Nobles County Assistant Attorney Adam Johnson asked Judge Terry Vajgrt to set bail in the amount of $1 million with conditions, due to the serious nature of the charge. Defense Attorney Jason Kohlmeyer said his client has no criminal record and is not a flight risk, and asked that bail be set at $100,000.
Because the charge was issued by indictment after being heard by a grand jury, there has not been a criminal complaint filed. Johnson told the judge he was aware there wasn't much information for the court, and explained some of the things he referred to as the "weight of the evidence."
Johnson said two .12 gauge shells were found at the scene. Ballistics analysis showed the shells matched a shotgun belonging to Chris Kruse that was found in Brewster. He also said that by his own admission, Chris Kruse rendered no first aid at the scene, nor did he comfort his wife as she died. Johnson also said Chris Kruse admitted he made no effort to secure his home after it was allegedly entered by an intruder.
According to Kohlmeyer, Chris Kruse is an almost life-long resident of the area and has made no attempt to leave the area since the crime took place.
"This was not something that happened 2-3 months ago - it was almost 4 years ago," Kohlmeyer stated. "The county has had all of that time, and he's had four years to consider fleeing."
Kohlmeyer also said it was normal for people in small towns to leave doors unlocked.
Vajgrt said he would prefer to see a criminal complaint, but events unfolded differently. Vajgrt acknowledged Kruse has reasons to remain in the area - namely, his businesses and family - and that he hadn't fled, but added that an indictment might change that.
Conditions of the $250,000 bail amount include normal constraints such as staying in touch with the courts and not leaving the state without permission, but also include a stipulation that within four hours of making bail, Kruse must "deliver to law enforcement any and all firearms." He may not possess firearms while the case is active. He is also not to communicate with any of the grand jury witnesses on matters relating to the case.
Bail without conditions was set at $1 million.
There were 22 witnesses who testified during the grand jury process, some of whom are family members. The jury consisted of 16 to 23 jurors, and at least 12 found probable cause for the indictment, as required by law.
Kruse is scheduled to make his next court appearance March 27.