Cold case murder suspect ruled incompetent to stand trial

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls man suspected in a cold case murder investigation in Minnesota in 1974 will not stand trial.

That ruling came down today in Kandiyohi County Court.

Algene Vossen is accused of killing Mable Herman of Willmar, Minnesota almost 50 years ago.

He was immediately a person of interest and questioned in the case, but it wasn’t until last year that new DNA testing tied him to the murder.

His lawyer had asked the court to find Vossen incompetent to stand trial due to his physical and mental well-being and today the judge ruled in his favor.

Three mental health experts examined Vossen earlier this year.

In their reports, all three suggest that Vossen is suffering from significant memory impairment, specifically regarding newly learned information, or his short-term memory.

They also found Vossen displays additional impairments that will impede his ability to consult with and assist his counsel.

“It’s a decision you don’t count on, because these are tough things for courts to do,” Kent Marshall said.

I spoke with Vossen’s attorney this afternoon via zoom.

Don Jorgensen: As his defense lawyer do you count on this as a victory?

Kent Marshall: I can’t say there’s a victory here, you know we have a family that is still 47 years later still grieving the loss of someone, no closure and we have a guy who is 80-years old that is suffering from mental incapacity either suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s or some combination of that,” Kent Marshall said.

Vossen was arrested last summer at his home in Sioux Falls after the Willmar police Department formed a cold case unit and found new DNA evidence allegedly tying him to the murder.

Court papers say Herman was stabbed 38 times.

Now that Vossen has been found to be incompetent to stand trial for murder, the county must decide if he can be civilly committed, meaning put into some sort of mental institution.

But for now, Vossen will more than likely stay with the same relative in Iowa who had been caring for him leading up to today’s decision.

“Whoever is in charge of him has to report to the court every six months, and the state can ask for a hearing every six months if they want to determine whether or not he regained the capacity and in this type of case, that’s kind of unlikely,” Kent Marshall said.

KELOLAND News reached out to the Willmar police department that spent months reinvestigating the cold case.

The chief of police issued this statement:

“Our agency respects the court’s ruling based on medical reviews and physician’s opinion but is disappointed that this case will not appear to come to trial for the murder of Mabel Herman,” Chief Jim Felt said. “We hope that the renewed investigation and arrest provided some hope and closure that the Herman family and investigating officers had sought since her homicide in 1974.”

The entire ruling can be found below.

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