Published April 4, 2024

Rare Occurrence in Minot Courtroom 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

Jury Released on First Day of Trial 

MINOT – A jury selected Wednesday was released from duty Thursday without hearing a single word of testimony in the case against Kamauri Kennedy. Kennedy is charged with two AA felonies, Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder, both punishable by a sentence of life without parole. 

Kennedy is accused of murdering Domonique Kelly, 33, Minot. Her body was found June 3, 2021, in a burning vehicle in southeast Minot. Kennedy was believed to have fled the city in a Chrysler 300, which was later found abandoned and burned near Minneapolis. Kennedy was apprehended in Michigan in late 2021 following a high-speed pursuit and crash. He was on parole with the Michigan Department of Corrections at that time. 

North-Central District Judge Gary Lee, prior to the scheduled swearing in of the jury, which was waiting for the trial to begin, met with attorneys from both sides of the case to resolve an issue surrounding DNA evidence found on items at the crime scene – gloves, mask, and steering wheel from the burned Chevrolet Impala. 

A person from the State Crime Lab explained to the court the DNA analysis showed both known and unknown matches in a national database as of April 1. Defense Attorney William Skees questioned whether the DNA was complete, adding, “God forbid we proceed today with that elephant in the room. Doing so guarantees a re-trial.” 

State of North Dakota Attorney John Gonalez was in agreement, telling Lee, “Given the unknown and known needs to be resolved before we continue.” 

“The best course is the safest course,” said Skees. 

Lee took a break from the proceedings to allow for a check to be made as to any further conclusions from the recent DNA tests. With updated information, Lee determined that more time was needed to insure the inclusion of all possible DNA findings. 

Skees suggested waiting 30 days before the trial would begin. Lee thought it wouldn’t be possible to reschedule the trial until late summer or early fall. He turned to Kennedy, asking if he wished to respond to the court. 

“I have no choice but to go with the continuance. I agree,” said Kennedy. 

After a 90-minute discussion Lee called for the bailiff to bring the jury into the courtroom. He told them, “I have an apology. We’ve run into a roadblock with some late discovery of evidence that needs to be investigated, probably for a month or more. I’m going to dismiss you all as jurors rather than risk a mistrial or appeal.” 

The State reminded Lee that the Anita Knutson murder case was scheduled for trial in July, so the Kennedy trial would likely have to be set back until at least August. No new trial date was immediately set.  

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