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Prosecutor files murder charges in Mille Lacs County stabbing

ONAMIA--A 22-year-old Sandstone man faces three felony murder charges in connection with the stabbing death of a 45-year-old Onamia man. Matthew Scott Smith appeared Wednesday, Aug. 22, in Mille Lacs County District Court in Milaca for a bail hea...

Matthew Scott Smith
Matthew Scott Smith

ONAMIA-A 22-year-old Sandstone man faces three felony murder charges in connection with the stabbing death of a 45-year-old Onamia man.

Matthew Scott Smith appeared Wednesday, Aug. 22, in Mille Lacs County District Court in Milaca for a bail hearing in front of Judge Steven A. Anderson. Bail was set at $600,000 without conditions and $300,000 with conditions. He faces second-degree intentional murder, second-degree murder without intent and third-degree murder while perpetrating an eminently dangerous act with a depraved mind.

Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent C. Lindgren reported the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office received 911 calls at 2:41 p.m. Monday about a medical emergency at the Mille Lacs Band Tesoro Convenience Store off Highway 169 in Onamia.

Deputies arrived minutes later on scene, where they found Ronald Lee Benjamin, 45, Onamia, lying on the tar apparently bleedinging from the neck, a news release reported. Deputies and Mille Lacs Health System Ambulance personnel attempted lifesaving measures on Benjamin. He was transported by ambulance to the Mille Lacs Health Systems Hospital in Onamia, where he was later pronounced dead.

Deputies determined the medical call was due to an assault. The suspect was identified as Smith and deputies located him walking a short distance away on Twilight Road, south of the Tesoro store.

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Smith was taken into custody and transported by ambulance to the Mille Lacs Health Systems Hospital in Onamia for evaluation. The suspect was later released and was transported to the Mille Lacs County Jail.

Lindgren reported another person of interest in the death investigation, a 26-year-old Hinckley woman, was arrested at 9:11 p.m. Tuesday. The woman had outstanding warrants in Pine, Chisago and Stearns counties. Lindgren also reported a black GMC Yukon with Wisconsin license plates that left the scene was recovered.

The Onamia police and fire departments, Minnesota State Patrol, Mille Lacs Health Systems ambulance and hospital personnel, Mille Lacs Band employees and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted the sheriff's office with the investigation.

"Individuals' willingness to cooperate and assist law enforcement aided the quick response, apprehension, and allowed for complex investigative details to be discovered very quickly, all leading to location of evidence, identification of those involved and items of interest," Lindgren reported.

Anyone with information in the death investigation may contact the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office investigative division at 320-983-8250.

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