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State v. Schleicher

December 24, 2003



The constitutionality of Minn. Stat. § 611.026 (2002) cannot be challenged for the first time on appeal.


Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Page, Justice.


Roger Lindbo Schleicher (Schleicher) was indicted on one count of first-degree murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2002) as a result of the shooting death of his close friend, Jack Johannsen (Johannsen). At trial, Schleicher pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness under Minn. Stat. § 611.026 (2002),*fn1 often referred to as the "M'Naghten rule,"*fn2 Minnesota's legal insanity statute.*fn3 Schleicher waived his right to a jury trial and, at the conclusion of the guilt phase of the trial, the trial court returned a guilty verdict. After the mental illness phase, the trial court rejected Schleicher's defense and reaffirmed the guilty verdict. Schleicher was sentenced to life in prison.*fn4 On appeal, Schleicher contends that his conviction should be reversed because the unconstitutionally vague language of Minn. Stat. § 611.026 violated his due process rights. We affirm.

The following facts were established at trial. Schleicher has a history of mental illness that is extensive and well-documented. Schleicher began exhibiting psychotic symptoms in 1989 and was hospitalized in Owatonna. His symptoms included, among other things, his belief that: (1)áhis employment law attorney was involved with the mafia and that the mafia was involved with his employer; (2)áhis son was born one month premature because his wife was in collusion with her doctors so that Schleicher would have a spiritual revelation; and (3)áhis wife and mother-in-law gave his father-in-law cancer.

Schleicher was civilly committed as mentally ill in March of 1992 after threatening to kill his wife. When he was discharged from the commitment in June of 1992, his diagnoses included: schizophrenia, paranoid type; organic delusional disorder; and major affective disorder. Schleicher was again civilly committed as mentally ill in February 1993. This time, among other things, Schleicher believed that his phone was bugged and that people were trying to poison him. He was discharged from this commitment in August 1993. In August 1996, Schleicher admitted himself to the hospital. When he was discharged in December 1996, his diagnoses included adjustment disorder with depression, paranoid schizophrenia, and alcohol abuse. In August 1998, Schleicher was civilly committed as mentally ill and chemically dependent. At that time, Schleicher stated that "someone might be killed" if he was not admitted, and a shotgun and ammunition were found in the trunk of his car. He was discharged from this commitment in March 1999. Finally, Schleicher was civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous in February 2000. Schleicher was discharged from this commitment on June 16, 2000.

In the fall of 2000, Schleicher was again having delusional thoughts. These delusions included thinking that: (1)áhe was God, as was confirmed by the fact that his son was born on Christmas Day; (2)áthe Chinese were the enemy, were against God, and were going to cause the end of the world; and (3)áa nuclear war was going to happen on New Year's Eve and that he was "ground zero" for this war because of the iron cross tattoo on his body.

After attending church services on December 24, 2000, Schleicher, concerned about his mental health, drove 70 miles to the Blue Earth hospital in search of psychiatric care. According to Schleicher, he chose the Blue Earth hospital because it was parallel to railroad tracks. Because the hospital did not have a psychiatric unit, Schleicher was transported to the Austin Medical Center, where he was initially interviewed by a social worker. The social worker, concerned that Schleicher might be a security risk, had a hospital security officer present during the interview. The social worker observed that "[Schleicher] is perceived to be more experiencing persecutory type of thoughts while with the undersigned, however, there is also some indication from other observers that would identify some real bizarre type of thinking occurring on this day." The social worker also noted that Schleicher was seeking a letter from a doctor that would permit him to purchase a gun, and that Schleicher admitted that there were people at imminent risk of harm from him. While the social worker consulted with other doctors, Schleicher had a conversation with the security officer wherein he discussed the moon phases, the effect the moon phases had on his behavior, and the fact that Japan and China were taking over the world. Schleicher also told one of the doctors at the center that, "Two policemen are screwing me royal and I need a f---ing gun – they have guns, why can't I?" Schleicher was released from the Austin Medical Center on December 27, 2000.

On the morning of December 29, 2000, Johannsen told his wife that Schleicher had called and that he was going to Schleicher's house to help him get groceries and find a car. Johannsen left his house at 10:20 a.m. At 10:30 a.m., Schleicher left a message on Johannsen's cellular telephone saying, "Jack, this is Roger, hurry it up. That case guy called from the County, I've got to get out of here." Shortly after 11:00 a.m., Schleicher called the Steele County Sheriff's Department and reported a hunting accident on his elk farm. Schleicher told the dispatcher that Johannsen was dead. At 12:10 p.m., Schleicher called again and indicated to the dispatcher that Johannsen was still alive. Schleicher called a third time at 12:25 p.m. By then, law enforcement officers were approaching Schleicher's house using a road grader as cover. As the officers approached, Schleicher came out of the house with his hands up, laid down on his back, made a snow angel by flailing his arms and legs, and then turned over on his stomach when ordered to do so by the law enforcement officers. Johannsen's body was found in the house and shotgun shells and two guns were found in Schleicher's garage.

Schleicher was transported to the Steele County Jail. While being transported, Schleicher, referring to Johannsen, commented that, "I can't believe a Vietnam veteran fell for that trap." At the jail, Schleicher was interviewed by a BCA agent that afternoon. During the interview, Schleicher indicated that he had been having problems with Johannsen. He indicated that he thought Johannsen was stealing from him and referred to Johannsen as "Wells Fargo" and himself as "Norwest." In addition to the Wells Fargo and Norwest references, Schleicher indicated that his case worker and members of the media hinted to him that he should kill Johannsen. Schleicher also claimed that Johannsen was a drug dealer and had given drugs to his children and Johannsen's niece, and that Johannsen had bugged his telephone and made a fool out of him. During the interview he indicated that he had lured Johannsen to the house to kill him. According to Schleicher, when Johannsen entered the house, he [Schleicher] was holding a 12-gauge shotgun and smiled at Johannsen and shot him six times. Before firing the last shot, Schleicher said to Johannsen, "Jack, if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen."

The autopsy on Johannsen's body confirmed that Johannsen had suffered six separate gunshot wounds from a shotgun, one of which was to his head. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy concluded that the wound to the head occurred while the gun was at close range, while the other wounds were a result of shots fired at a range of 12 to 15 feet. The cause of death was excessive blood loss and extensive destruction of the brain.

On January 11, 2001, Schleicher was admitted to the Minnesota Security Hospital to undergo a Rule 20.01 competency examination.*fn5 Dr. Karen Bruggemeyer conducted the examination. She diagnosed Schleicher as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder. She concluded that Schleicher was not competent to stand ...

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