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Judge OKs county funds for defense

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

A district judge approved using county funds to pay for expert defense witnesses in a local homicide case.

Judge Joseph Wieners has authorized the use of up to $2,100 in order for defense attorneys to hire experts to evaluate autopsy and toxicology reports in the case of their client, Leslie Lindsey Treadwell.

The 48-year-old Treadwell is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Joseph Leonard Bale outside his rural Rochester residence on Oct. 4. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming the stabbing was done in self-defense. The trial is expected to be held this summer.

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Rich McCluer of Winona is one of two public defenders assigned to represent Treadwell. He filed motion papers asking the judge to approve the use of county funds to pay for the services of two experts. He said the budget of the Third Judicial District Public Defender's office for expert witnesses has been spent or committed to other cases and no money is available for an expert in this case. He said the expert services are necessary to preserve Treadwell's constitutional due process rights and to a fair trial.

He said the defense wants to retain Dr. Andrew Topliff of Golden Valley, associate medical director of the Hennepin Regional Poison Control Center in Minneapolis, to review the autopsy toxicology report on Bale. McCluer noted that the report shows that many chemical substances were present in Bale's body at the time of his death, including alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and marijuana. McCluer said that in order to provide adequate defense for Treadwell, the attorneys must consult with experts to determine what behavioral effects the combination of these drugs would have had on an individual. They also need to learn whether the order in which these substances were ingested would make a difference as to these behavioral effects. He said such information would aid in making a final determination whether a claim of self-defense may be available to Treadwell.

Treadwell has said he was defending himself against Bale, who was upset and had started to punch him in the face, making him fall to his knees.

McCluer also asked for funds to hire Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist from Hastings, to review and evaluate autopsy reports and photographs and make findings about the location of the tab wounds, the order in which they occurred and how much force was required to make the wounds. McCluer said a determination of the amount of force may aid Treadwell's claim of self-defense.

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