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Man charged in death of former Minnesota police chief makes court appearance

Morris Silas Dodd Jr. Courtesy Becker County Sheriff's Office

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — A man charged in connection with the death of a former Lake Park police chief made a court appearance on Monday, Dec. 10.

Morris Silas Dodd Jr., 54, of Ogema, is charged with one count of felony second-degree manslaughter and one felony count of a felon illegally possessing a firearm, according to documents filed in Becker County District Court.

Becker County officials previously identified the victim as Jay Clayton Nelson.

Dodd appeared in court for Monday's hearing and an omnibus hearing was set for Jan. 7.

On Nov. 10, Becker County officials were dispatched to an area near Little Flat Lake on the White Earth Reservation and found a man, later identified as Nelson, deceased in his vehicle, according to court documents.

Law enforcement officials were able to retrieve a bullet from the body and found a spent shell casing, footprints and a cigarette butt several hundred yards away, court records show.

A witness told police they saw a man, later identified as Dodd, in the area at an earlier time, court documents said.

Dodd told police he was in the general area of Nelson's death on Nov. 10 and that he fired toward a fawn in order to scare it, though he stressed he wasn't trying to hit the animal, court records show.

Dodd denied seeing a vehicle or purposefully shooting at any person or vehicle, according to court documents.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension determined the spent shell casing and bullet retrieved from the body came from Dodd's rifle, court records show.

Dodd was previously convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1994 and was prohibited from possessing firearms, according to court records.

At a previous court hearing, conditions of release were set at $200,000 cash bail with no conditions or $10,000 cash bail with conditions; and $200,000 bond with no conditions or $100,000 bond with conditions.

Dodd remains in jail.