Plea agreement reached in Brooklyn Center homicide case
By Katy Zillmer
Rochelle Inselman admitted in Hennepin County District Court Dec. 7 that she decided to kill her ex-boyfriend Bret Struck in his Brooklyn Center home on Feb. 12.
Inselman, 39, and Struck last had contact in 2004, but the investigation into the murder shows she stalked him, opened credit cards in his name and sent defamatory messages about Struck to his friends and family.
Many of Struck’s friends and family watched last week as Inselman pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder during a motion hearing with Hennepin County District Court Judge Marilyn Kaman.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 11, with the expectation from both the Hennepin County prosecutors and Inselman’s attorney, Andrew Pearson, that she would receive the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Second-degree murder is the original charge Inselman received after her arrest for the crime in April.
However, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office pursued a first-degree murder indictment from the grand jury.
The indictment was made in July, and at the time Pearson said he anticipated his client would plead not guilty.
The Dec. 7 agreement was contingent upon Inselman’s guilty plea and that she serves the maximum sentence for second-degree intentional murder.
“It’s a major sentence that you’re receiving,” Pearson told Inselman during the hearing.
Pearson said one reason for the maximum sentence is that the crime occurred in Struck’s home.
“This happen in the victim’s zone of privacy,” Pearson said.
The plea agreement waives Inselman’s rights to a jury trial, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorneys Therese Galatowitsch and Dominick Mathews did not have any questions for Inselman, allowing Pearson to proceed with reviewing facts of the case with his client.
She said she drove in her car to Struck’s home sometime after it was dark outside on Feb. 12.
Inselman lived in Eden Valley, located in Stearns County about an hour-and-a-half from Brooklyn Center.
“I wanted to discuss things with him,” Inselman said in court after Pearson asked her why she went to Struck’s house.
She said she brought a loaded 9mm handgun with her on Feb. 12.
According to Pearson, Inselman purchased the gun off of a website similar to Craigslist, but for guns.
Inselman confirmed that Struck let her in his house after she knocked on the door.
The former couple then started to argue. Inselman pulled out the gun and shot at Struck nine times. He was hit with eight of the bullets, Pearson said.
He asked his client if she wanted to kill Struck during their argument.
Inselman responded, “yes.”
She said she disposed of the handgun in a rest stop trash can in Clearwater. The gun was never found, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Inselman also disposed of the box the gun was sold in at the same rest stop, according to the county attorney.
A custodian found the box, which contained one bullet casing matching the murder weapon. Inselman purchased the gun in January.
“Every case requires good investigation and help from citizens,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “This case needed even more of both because initially police had no strong suspects. But a citizen in this case went beyond the usual assistance when he found a gun box he thought was unusual and turned it over to police and that made justice possible.”
Investigators interviewed Inselman after Struck’s death but she denied being in Brooklyn Center in February. She said she was at home in Eden Valley and using her computer.
Investigators found no evidence of the computer use and also determined Inselman had been near Struck’s home more than once during the week before he was killed. They talked with her again on March 1. Inselman admitted at that time that she drove to Struck’s home and sat outside in her car.
Struck’s neighbors also reported seeing someone matching Inselman’s description in the area before his murder.
Investigators found Struck, who was 41, dead on the kitchen floor of his home Feb. 13. A former co-worker called police from outside Struck’s home after seeing him unresponsive on the floor.
Galatowitsch and Mathews filed several motions in the case outlining Inselman’s past relationship with Struck, acts of domestic abuse and a restraining order obtained by her ex-husband’s girlfriend.
The order was issued against Inselman in October 2010 after she made uninvited visits to her ex-husband’s girlfriend, identified as “J.D.,” and exhibited threatening behavior, according to one motion.
“The court also found that (Inselman) intended for this behavior to have a substantial effect on J.D.’s safety, security, or privacy,” it states.
J.D. included several police reports with the request for the harassment order detailing instances when Inselman would park outside her home, located several hours from Eden Valley.
Inselman also has a son from a relationship before she was married.
Her son’s father said Inselman had problems with her ex-husband and was trying to locate a gun as protection from him, according to the motion.
Galatowitsch and Mathews filed the motion about the harassment order to show Inselman’s acts against J.D. were similar to those before Struck was killed.
A second motion in the case about Inselman’s acts of domestic abuse stated she threatened to burn down her ex-husband’s home in order to get their daughter to live with her instead.
Inselman’s ex-husband also obtained an order for protection against her in January 2010. Inselman violated the order in May 2010 when she called her ex-husband’s cell phone.
Inselman pleaded guilty to the violation. In the order documents, her ex-husband said Inselman called people in the community where he lived and said he was abusive, a rapist, and that he threatened to kill her.
Inselman made unfounded reports to the police to try and prompt an investigation about her ex-husband, according to the motion.
Also, Inselman showed up uninvited at her ex-husband’s home and their daughter’s school.
A third motion describing Struck and Inselman’s relationship provides more detail about her behavior toward him.
Inselman used Struck’s Social Security number to open a credit card a few weeks before his murder, according to the motion. The card was mailed to Struck’s home and Inselman admitted to driving there and looking for the card in the mailbox, according to the motion.
Inselman also admitted to defamatory statements about Struck to his family in 2009, according to the motion.
“Relationship evidence is character evidence that may be offered to show the strained relationship between the accused and the victim (and) is relevant to establishing motive and intent and is therefore admissible,” according to the motion.
“(The) evidence of the relationship between the victim and a defendant in a homicide trial is highly relevant,” it states.
Kaman said she would take the plea agreement “under advisement” until the sentencing hearing Dec. 11.
Struck’s family and friends have the opportunity to read victim impact statements at the sentencing.