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Minnesota Supreme Court upholds Moorhead man's murder conviction

The Minnesota Supreme Court Thursday upheld a Moorhead man's first-degree murder conviction. Mark Carney was convicted in Clay County District Court in 2001 of killing John Voeller of West Fargo in August 2000. Carney, who was sentenced to li...

The Minnesota Supreme Court Thursday upheld a Moorhead man's first-degree murder conviction.

Mark Carney was convicted in Clay County District Court in 2001 of killing John Voeller of West Fargo in August 2000.

Carney, who was sentenced to life in prison, appealed. He said the trial court erred when it refused to give the jury the option of considering a lesser charge of heat-of-passion first-degree manslaughter.

Carney's appeal also claimed the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence a photograph of Voeller with his family and by refusing to admit into evidence testimony regarding a video tape that showed Voeller and Carney's wife, Sheila, embracing.

The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court, ruling there was no rational basis for the jury to find that Carney killed Voeller in the heat of passion.

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The high court also ruled that the evidentiary decisions made during trial were appropriate.

During his trial, Carney said he had planned to kill himself after learning for certain his wife was having a relationship with Voeller.

Instead, he said, by coincidence he crossed paths with Voeller at one of the Tobacco City stores Voeller managed in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Carney said he ended up shooting Voeller with a sawed-off shotgun after Voeller made a snide remark to him.

In its findings, the Supreme Court recounted the incident based on trial testimony:

"Voeller's back was turned when (Carney) walked in (the store). (Carney) said, "I'm sorry," and turned around. "(Carney) testified that when Voeller responded, "Yeah, you should be," he "snapped," shooting Voeller once in the back of the head.

"With Voeller slumped to the floor, facing upward, (Carney) moved a few steps closer, said, "that's for sleeping with my wife," reloaded the shotgun and shot Voeller in the face. He then left the store."

The high court stated that while Carney's conduct over the two hours leading up to the shooting showed signs of desperation, "there is also a pervading characteristic of anger, vengeful planning, and preparation.

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"Appellant sawed off a shotgun in order to hide it in his jacket and armed himself with five shotgun shells -- belying his claim that his intended use of the sawed-off shotgun was to commit suicide in Sheila's presence," the court ruling stated.

Readers can reach Moorhead Bureau Chief Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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