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Jury Hears Evidence Against MN Man In Iowa Killing

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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CARROLL, Iowa (WCCO) — The friend of an accused murderer said he knew something bad was going to happen shortly before two women were shot and killed in Iowa in November.

Michael Swanson of St. Louis Park is on trial for first-degree murder.

Tuesday was the second day of his trial. Graphic evidence was presented to jurors, while both the victims’ families and Swanson’s family looked on.

Swanson remained motionless during much of today’s testimony, but he smirked when his friend Danny Cegla took the stand on behalf of the state.

“He told me he was on the run,” said Cegla.

Cegla told the jury how he met Swanson at a Minnesota park shortly before the murder of two convenience store clerks.

“So he lifts up his shirt and in his waste band there was a pistol,” said Cegla.

Cegla said Swanson told him he had broken into his family’s cabin to steal the gun. Pictures taken by sheriff’s deputies show footprints leading to the cabin, a broken window and two empty gun cases.

“His main plan was to stay out of jail. He sounded like he was going to cross borders, state borders, and just drive,” said Cegla.

Surveillance cameras show the jeep Swanson was driving was in Humboldt, Iowa, the same night store clerk Sheila Myers was gunned down at a Kum & Go Gas Station.

Early the next morning, workers at a McDonald’s in Webster City, Iowa called police to report a suspicious vehicle. Dash cam video shows them arresting Swanson. In the jeep they also found a ski mask, camouflage clothing and a handgun.

Investigators said the casing found at the scene of Myers’ murder matched the gun.

“The casing found at the Kum & Go in Humboldt was fired from this gun. The bullet found in Sheila Myers’ was found in this gun,” said St. Louis Park Police Officer Matt Reilly.

Officer Reilly also told jurors that Michael Swanson’s father told him he kept all the guns locked up in their house, because he was afraid of his son.

Sheila Myers’ daughters were in court during much of the testimony. They hugged family members when a picture of their mother was shown to jurors.

Swanson was 17 when he allegedly shot Myers and store clerk Vicky Bowman-Hall in Algona, Iowa. His attorneys are claiming he was mentally ill during the shootings and didn’t know what he was doing.

His trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carroll, Iowa.

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