Posted: Monday, 26 September 2011 4:16PM

Munt Not Mentally Ill -- Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole



MANKATO (TEC News) – A Burnsville man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the March 2010 murder of his ex-wife in a Mankato park.
 
A jury found 35-year-old Joel Marvin Munt was not mentally ill at the time he shot his wife six times while she was in her car with the couple’s three young children at Rasmussen Woods.
 
Last week the jury heard a week’s worth of testimony before finding him guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and 16 other charges including assault, robbery and kidnapping.
 
Today the jury heard from one defense witness and one prosecution witness.
 
Dr. Allan Coursol conducted a psychological exam at the request of the defense, while Dr. Sheryl Delain examined Joel Munt at the request of the court.
 
Both Dr. Coursol and Dr. Delain concluded that while Munt exhibited signs of severe depression and paranoid personality disorder he understood what he was doing when he shot Svetlana Munt.
 
Dr. Coursol, a licensed psychologist at the Mankato Psychology Clinic, testified that Munt also showed psychotic features. He also exhibited “deep seeded character issues.” Those would include a distortion as to how the world is and a belief in conspiracies.
 
Dr. Coursol told the jury he gave Munt an “objective personality inventory test” and had results he never experienced before.
 
The test is 467 True or False questions, but Munt wrote a qualifying statement on every question he answered, something Dr. Coursol said he had “never seen before.”
 
“He didn’t trust my interpretation of the questions,” said Dr. Coursol.
 
The prosecution called Dr. Sheryl Delain to the stand.
 
Delain is a forensic psychologist at the State Operated Forensic Services in St. Peter.
 
She conducted what was described as a “criminal responsibility exam” on Munt.
 
During the trial, Munt described as “out of body” experience during the shooting. Claiming he watched “It” shoot his wife, Dr. Delain said that experience could be explained as “depersonalization.”
 
But she said the depersonalization is not a part of Munt’s depression but is “seen in trauma” and is “extremely common in persons involved in a violent crime.”
 
Police officers involved in a shooting and combat soldiers were a few of the examples offered by Dr. Delain.
 
Dr. Delain also said she spoke with Munt’s parents about his mood in the week’s leading up to the shooting.
 
She said they described his depression, but nothing out of the ordinary.
 
Delain says her investigation could find no evidence that Munt had talked about “hearing voices” until he was in jail.
 
“Bottom line?” asked prosecutor Pat McDermott?
 
“At no point was he (Munt) out of contact with reality,” said Dr. Delain.
 
“The psychotics settled in over time,” Dr. Delain later explained.
 
In his closing, defense attorney Robert Dockerty told the jury Munt was “psychotic after his arrest.”
 
“I believe God, some spiritual force took him over. He (Munt) won’t say it…I will. Mr. Munt felt God took him over,” explained Dockerty. “That’s where Mr. Munt’s mind was.”
 
The jury left the courtroom at 9:50 a.m. They were back in the courtroom by 10:30 a.m.
 
Within ten minutes the verdict had been read.
 
Guilty – First-degree premeditated murder – Life in prison without the possibility of parole.
 
Guilty – 2 counts aggravated robbery on the couple he stole the vehicle from after the shooting – 57 months each, consecutive to other sentences.
 
Guilty – 2nd degree assault on witness Todd Block – 36 months, consecutive.
 
Guilty – 3 counts kidnapping – 36 months each, consecutive.
 
Guilty – 3 counts criminal vehicular injury – 365 days each, consecutive.

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