Thief River Falls man charged in death of Digi-Key employee; man used sign to strike victim
Benitez-Estremera could face up to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the charges.
THIEF RIVER FALLS — Official charges have been filed against a Thief River Falls man in the death of a Digi-Key employee earlier this week.
Jorge Luis Benitez-Estremera has been charged with two counts of felony second-degree murder and one count of felony aggravated assault for the death of Steven Opdahl, of Oklee, Minnesota. Benitez-Estremera could face up to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the charges.
Benitez-Estremera's unconditional bond was set at $1,500,000. To be realized with conditions, he must pay $1,000,000 cash or $10,000,000 surety.
An employee called police after finding Opdahl unresponsive outside of Digi-Key around 10:12 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. Opdahl was pronounced dead after authorities arrived on scene.
The incident was captured on Digi-Key security camera footage, according to court documents.
Police found that Opdahl was outside smoking when a white car approached him.
Benitez-Estremera exited the vehicle and knocked Opdahl’s cigarette from his hand, court documents say. The two exchanged words, then Benitez-Estremera began to attack Opdahl, who tried to escape multiple times but couldn’t get away.
When Opdahl tried running down a nearby sidewalk — Benitez-Estremera chased him with a sign on a post — eventually knocking him into the ground with it, according to court documents.
Later, police located Benitez-Estremera’s vehicle at an apartment and arrested him.
When he was interviewed about the incident, police said Benitez-Estremera admitted to the attack and claimed the person he attacked was “contaminated and needed to be taken out of the system” — but that he did not know him personally.
Police said at no point during the attack did Opdahl show aggression.
According to a statement from Digi-Key, Benitez-Estremera has never worked at Digi-Key in any capacity.
"He also never sought, nor gained access into our facility," the statement said.
Since his arrest, Benitez-Estremera has been granted a public defender.
His initial appearance in court is scheduled for May 22.