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Brittany Lawonn, Published June 23 2009

Preliminary autopsy consistent with witness reports of shooting

Preliminary autopsy reports appear to confirm witness accounts of Saturday’s fatal shooting of a 17-year-old from Moorhead, Police Chief David Ebinger said Monday.

“Everything seems to be consistent,” Ebinger said.

Joel LaFromboise was shot in the chest following a home intrusion into Vernon Allen’s south Moorhead apartment. LaFromboise had been in at least two other unlocked apartments earlier in the night, including one downstairs from Allen minutes before he was killed.

Ebinger would not comment on how far LaFromboise was from Allen’s gun when he was shot or whether preliminary autopsy results indicate any alcohol or drugs in his system.

Allen, 47, and others who saw LaFromboise on Friday night and early Saturday say he appeared to be under the influence of something. His family has said they do not believe he was using drugs or alcohol.

Full results, including toxicology results, will take about two to four weeks, Ebinger said.

Investigators will then review the case and consult with the Clay County attorney’s office again to determine whether any charges should be filed.

A final determination will be made at that time, Assistant Clay County Attorney Heidi Davies said.

“It’s a matter that’s under investigation, and currently we don’t have anything to charge (Allen) with and that’s why he’s not being held,” Davies said. “This is an investigation that just has to run its course.”

Investigators are still trying to retrace LaFromboise’s whereabouts before the shooting, Ebinger said.

“We’ve really been fairly exhaustive in trying to locate any other witnesses or any other physical evidence,” he said.

LaFromboise’s father, Ralph, told The Forum he is angry about the decision to not charge Allen, saying he feels his son was murdered.

Allen told The Forum he told LaFromboise to leave and warned him he was grabbing his gun after LaFromboise tried to hit him. LaFromboise grabbed the barrel of the gun, Allen said, adding he pulled the trigger out of fear the gun would be turned against him.

“Everybody’s got an opinion, and what this is, this is a tragedy for the family,” Ebinger said. “This has just been a difficult and a tragic time for everybody that’s involved in this. and we’re sympathetic and you can’t do this kind of work without feeling for those parents.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541