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Alleged Totem Pole Killer Pleads Guilty

Posted at: 01/09/2013 10:25 AM
Updated at: 01/09/2013 11:01 PM

nullA Koochiching County man accused of using a totem pole to kill his wife has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Carl Chester Muggli, 51, entered the plea Wednesday. His version of the events is as follows:

He told the court that Linda, his wife, had found out about his extra-marital affair the day of her death. The two got into a heated argument according to him. When he raised a cant hook over his head, as if to strike her, she recoiled in fear. In doing so, according to his account, she fell and knocked the totem pole on herself. Muggli also admitted he did nothing to save his wife, although he could have, according to the court.

He remains in custody, and has been since he was indicted in July. Muggli had been charged with first-degree murder in the November 2010 death of Linda at their home in Ray.

The Mugglis were well-known totem pole carvers, with clients including Six Flags Theme Parks and Warner Bros. International Television.

According to the criminal complaint, Linda Muggli died after a totem pole fell onto her chest and shoulder.  Muggli said it was an accident, but authorities said they could not reconstruct the incident the way Muggli said it happened.

The complaint said Muggli was fighting with his wife on the day of her death about a divorce.  They had not filed any divorce paperwork, according to court records. The complaint also outlined that Muggli was in communication with a woman from Alabama and had a romantic relationship with her.

Authorities were alerted to the alleged affair by a concerned citizen.

Muggli moved to Stockdale, Texas after his wife's death and was arrested there after a six-month investigation.

A jury trial had been scheduled to begin Monday in Bemidji.  Sentencing is set for Feb. 4.

The prosecutor said that the sentencing range is 12.5 to 15 years in prison.