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Murder charge dismissed in suicide case

VANG, long.jpg
Long Vang
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A judge on Thursday dismissed the most serious charges filed against a man whom authorities blamed for a woman's suicide.

Long Vang, 35, has been in custody since June 13, when he was charged with one count each of third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and pattern of stalking conduct, all felonies.

Defense attorney Duane Kennedy filed a motion to dismiss the murder and manslaughter charges weeks ago, he said.

Olmsted County District Court Judge Debra Jacobson granted the motion for lack of probable cause.

Vang remains in custody in lieu of $75,000 conditional bail; a plea hearing has been set for Wednesday.

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"We intend to plead not guilty (to stalking) and go from there," he said.

Kennedy has filed a motion to have Vang released on his own recognizance.

"He's had great, great consequences from being charged," Kennedy said. "The most important charges were dismissed; this is a huge decision for him. He's glad the court did what we thought was simply to follow the law."

Prosecutors believed Jessica Haban, 28, was driven to her death by constant abuse at the hands of Vang, the original criminal complaint says.

He was charged after a long investigation of the 11-year relationship between Vang and Haban, said Sgt. Kirby Long of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. The two were culturally married.

In August 2015, a domestic abuse-no contact order was issued against Vang, but three months later, a witness reported to law enforcement that Vang was contacting Haban. According to the complaint, the woman "was concerned for (Haban's) safety and well-being and expressed fear that Vang would seriously injure or kill" Haban.

Haban admitted to officers that Vang had been calling and texting her nearly daily.

Haban received in-patient mental health treatment in the months prior to her death; during the last hospitalization — Dec. 10 — Haban called the social worker and asked to leave treatment. On Dec. 13, the social worker learned Haban had been discharged.

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Haban died by suicide Dec. 16 at her home in Stewartville.

A forensic analysis of Haban's phone revealed nearly 1,800 phone calls and messages between Vang and Haban between Sept. 12 and Dec. 16, 2015, the reports say; all were violations of the DANCO.

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