Munger murder trial continues on anniversary of victim’s death
Michael Lowell Munger, 53, is charged with murdering Lynnie Ann Loucks, who was found dead in April 2022, north of Brainerd.
BRAINERD — On the one-year anniversary of the murder of 43-year-old Lynnie Ann Loucks, court resumed promptly at 9 a.m. Friday, April 28, in the trial against the Brainerd man accused of killing her.
“For the world, it's the anniversary. For us, it's every day,” said Dennis Loucks, Lynnie Ann Loucks ’ husband, Friday outside of the courtroom.
Michael Lowell Munger, 53, is charged with murdering Loucks. She was found dead April 28, 2022, at a residence she shared with Munger on Smith Road, near Legionville Road, in Unorganized Territory north of Brainerd.
Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Travis Loeffler testified Friday morning about serving search warrants on multiple cellphones and vehicles in April 2022.
Loeffler said Munger’s cellphone, which was found in the yard of the home on Smith Road, missed 12 phone calls from Loucks’ phone between 8 and 8:30 a.m., which were all missed calls. Munger used Loucks’ phone to call Dennis Loucks, Lynnie Ann Loucks’ husband, and Tim Otterness, Munger’s former friend on the morning of April 28.
Loeffler also testified to two jailhouse phone conversations Munger had with his brother and a male named Kyle.
In the audio, Munger can be heard saying “I'm going away for a while” because “she was sleeping with my roommate, my best friend.”
Katherine Kingsland, a forensic laboratory scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testified about collecting samples and testing for DNA. Kingsland said the victim’s oral, vaginal and rectal swabs all tested negative for male DNA.
Munger inquired as to whether any male DNA was found in Loucks.
“No,” Kingsland said.
When assistant Crow Wing County attorneys Janine LePage asked Kingsland to clarify, she said she found no trace of any.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension team lead Jessica Hunt testified about processing the crime scene before showing the jury a video walk-through of the house and grounds.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived that morning in 2022, 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.
Hunt testified about gathering and processing the blood and fingerprints at the scene, along with how they collected the bat and belt. She said her team found blood around the sink, which had been wiped away.
After informing the jury they discovered five blood-soaked blankets, which were laid out on the bed, Hunt then explained how she took photos and measurements of a blood-covered wall in the bedroom.
Kathryn Roche, a forensic laboratory scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified regarding testing the DNA samples. Roche said she found four different DNA profiles on the bat’s handle, which had been found covered in blood at the foot of the bed. When it was found, the bat still had plastic wrapping on it from the store.
Of the four individuals found in the DNA samples, two were major contributors, Roche said. Loucks and Munger could not be excluded from the DNA sample on the bat's handle, though she could exclude 99.99997% of the population. Roche said the samples on the handle are consistent with it being handled in a store.
Jason Simser, a lead forensic laboratory scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified regarding the blood patterns found at the home. Simser stated the blood pattern found on the wall next to Munger’s bed came from a source on the bed consistent with the location of where the pool of blood was located.
Katherine Igowaky, a forensic laboratory scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, showed a PowerPoint presentation on her analysis of trace footprints left at the scene. She concluded Munger’s boots made some, if not all of the impressions in the blood.
Judge Kristine DeMay called for court to recess for the day around 4:30 p.m. Friday. The trial is set to resume 1 p.m. Monday 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 .