Munger murder trial begins in Brainerd
Michael Lowell Munger, 53, is charged with murdering Lynnie Ann Loucks, who was found dead in April 2022, north of Brainerd.
BRAINERD — The Brainerd man accused of the murder of 43-year-old Lynnie Ann Loucks asked jurors to keep an open mind regarding how this tragedy came about during his opening statements for his trial Wednesday, April 26.
Michael Lowell Munger, 53, is charged with murdering Loucks. She was found dead in April 2022 at a residence she shared with Munger on Smith Road, near Legionville Road, in Unorganized Territory north of Brainerd.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they reported finding Munger in the driveway of the residence with blood on his body and clothing. The victim was located inside a basement bedroom in the house lying on the ground in a pool of blood with a belt around her neck. Munger told law enforcement officers he “did what he did” and used a belt to strangle Lynnie Ann Loucks and a baseball bat to strike her.
Munger, who is representing himself at his trial, and his court-appointed adviser, Malcolm Whynott, appeared before Judge Kristine DeMay as he gave his brief opening statement, requesting only three things of the jury: that they know he loved her, the murder was not premeditated and to keep an open mind on how this tragedy came about.
Before Munger gave his statements, assistant Crow Wing County attorneys Janine LePage and Kelsey Hopps were seated to argue for the state as Hopps gave the state's opening statement.
The case, Hopps said in the prosecution’s opening remarks, is about a relationship founded on trust issues, which was doomed from the beginning based on Munger’s notion of what he perceived as infidelity.
The state plans on presenting evidence and testimony from law enforcement, roommates and friends, showing the distrust Munger built around his relationship with Lynnie Ann Loucks.
The first witness the state called forward was Dennis Loucks, Lynnie Ann Loucks’ husband, who talked about the relationship he had with her.
Mutually separating in 2020, Dennis Loucks said he and Lynnie Ann Loucks had a good relationship after they separated as they both wanted to work together as parents to their children.
Though the caller ID read Lynnie Ann Loucks, Dennis Loucks said he answered a phone call the morning of April 28, 2022, and heard Munger telling him twice, “she’s gone,” before hanging up her phone.
Munger asked Dennis Loucks about different interactions they had together during his time dating Lynnie Ann Loucks and how he perceived the interactions between them.
Dennis Loucks stated he saw Munger reacting in ways he described as narcissistic.
Following Dennis Loucks’ testimony, Karri Turcotte, the floor supervisor for Crow Wing County’s 911 call center, explained to the jury how a 911 call is routed and identified her audio in the recording, which was played for the jury.
The first officer on the scene, Crow Wing Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Andrew Bradley, spoke of responding to the call that morning, finding an “emotionless” and “very calm” Munger outside the residence on Smith Road.
A video of Munger’s arrest and the search of the residence were shown to the jury.
Crow Wing Sheriff’s Office deputy Mike Ruuhela also spoke of arriving on the scene with Bradley and how they arrested Munger.
Following the deputies testimony, Bobbi Loucks, Lynnie Ann Loucks’ daughter, was questioned by the state regarding her knowledge of the relationship between Munger and her mother.
Bobbi Loucks testified about the interactions on two phone calls between herself and Munger, stating when she interacted with him he was “frantic” and “paranoid” about Lynnie Ann Loucks’ and her possible infidelity in the relationship.
Munger’s cross-examination brought up a letter Lynnie Ann Loucks sent her children saying she was planning on working on the relationship and wanted to get back together with Munger.
Grand jury indicts Munger for 1st-degree murder
Bobbi Loucks told LePage she felt her mother wanted the relationship to work and how her mother would never agree to do anything she did not want to do.
Owner of the house on Smith Road and a former best friend of Munger’s, Tim Otterness testified about the events leading up to the death of Lynnie Ann Loucks and of his relationship with Munger and Lynnie Ann Loucks.
“What kind of person tells their best friend that they are going to end them?” Otterness said as he spoke about how he felt threatened by Munger.
DeMay called for court to recess for the day around 4:40 p.m. Wednesday. The trial is set to resume 9 a.m. Thursday in Crow Wing County District Court.
TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .