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Dave Olson, Published October 08 2010

Mahnomen shooter's guilty plea in double slaying comes as a surprise

A man charged in the deaths of a husband and wife late last week surprised a courtroom Thursday when he pleaded guilty to murder and other charges during what was expected to be a routine hearing in Mahnomen County (Minn.) District Court.

In pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and one count each of burglary and theft of a motor vehicle, Timothy James Thorson, 52, said he ­couldn’t go another day with the deaths of Francis and Ethyl Lundon on his conscience.

Thorson will be sentenced at a later date, but it is likely he will remain in prison for the rest of his life, said Mahnomen County Attorney Julie Bruggeman, who added that she had seen nothing like Thorson’s guilty plea in the eight years she has been a prosecutor.

The decision to accept the guilty plea was made after consulting the victims’ family, who said their goal was to make sure Thorson never left prison, Bruggeman said.

Thorson, who lived in a chemical dependency treatment center not far from the Lundons’ rural Mahnomen County home, told authorities he went to the house with the intention of killing drug dealers he believed lived there.

He didn’t find drug dealers but instead talked at length with the couple about his plans.

Thorson told authorities he shot Francis Lundon when the 72-year-old grabbed at his rifle. He said he then shot Ethyl Lundon, 71.

Bruggeman said Thorson told the story several times to different people, and the main details always remained the same.

She said court officials took pains to make sure Thorson was of sound mind when he decided to plead guilty.

“He (Thorson) said he didn’t want to make the family suffer any longer, that he felt remorse,” Bruggeman said.

She said she will recommend a sentence of about 30 1/2 years on each murder count and ask that the sentences run consecutively.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555