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Prosecutors appeal ruling that 1974 Willmar homicide suspect is incompetent to stand trial

Algene Vossen, 80, is charged with second-degree murder in the 1974 killing of Mabel "Mae" Agnes Boyer Herman in Willmar. The Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office has appealed a ruling from a district court judge that found Vossen incompetent to stand trial.

VOSSEN, ALGENE LEELAND
Algene Leeland Vossen Photo via Minnehaha County (S.D.) Jail
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WILLMAR, Minn. — The Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office has appealed a district court's decision that Algene Leeland Vossen , a man accused of a 1974 Willmar homicide, is incompetent to stand trial.

The Attorney's Office submitted an appeal last week asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to consider whether District Court Judge Stephen Wentzell erred when he found Vossen incompetent to stand trial.

Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker also requested that the competency order issued earlier this month by Wentzell be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

"This trial court's error, unless reversed, will have a critical impact on the outcome of the case and prevents the State from obtaining the appropriate conviction and sentence for this type of case."

Vossen, 80, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Mabel "Mae" Agnes Boyer Herman. He was charged last year after a Willmar Police Department cold case team was able to connect Vossen to the homicide after matching his DNA with a sweater Herman was wearing the night she was killed.

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A Willmar native, Vossen was living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when he was arrested in July 2020. He was booked into the Kandiyohi County Jail in September following extradition proceedings and made his first appearance in Kandiyohi County Court on Sept. 4, 2020. He was held on $1 million bail.

Vossen was released from jail in October of 2020. He was hospitalized in St. Cloud from Oct. 17 to Oct. 27, 2020, for medical treatment. He was then released into the care of his niece in Iowa, where he remains.

Wentzell, in a 23-page order filed Nov. 5, found Vossen not competent to stand trial and ordered Kandiyohi County to conduct a screening of Vossen and make a recommendation on whether Vossen should be civilly committed under the Minnesota Commitment and Treatment Act.

Wentzell cited testimony from three evaluators who suggested Vossen suffered from "significant memory impairment, specifically regarding newly learned information."

Wentzell had taken under advisement conflicting testimony given by three evaluators during a Sept. 10 competency hearing. Wenztell had also asked for the prosecution and the defense to submit written briefs.

In his order, Wentzell wrote that Vossen displays significant short-term memory impairments along with additional impairments that would hinder his ability to consult with his defense attorney or recall facts related to the case.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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