Melanie Kuula

A former Almena woman will mark the end of a year in the Barron County Jail as of next Monday, Aug. 10, 2019, as court action continues in connection with a charge of second-degree intentional homicide, according to Barron County Circuit Court records.

Records show 45-year-old Melanie R. Kuula has been held in jail since Aug. 10, 2019, after her arrest in connection with the stabbing death of her boyfriend, 50-year-old Brett M. Bents, during a domestic quarrel at their Almena apartment.

A five-day jury trial, originally scheduled for Aug. 24-28, 2020, has been delayed until next February, court records said.

Earlier this year, a defense motion to reduce bail was declined by the court.

In a hearing held on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, defense attorneys Ryan Raymond and Andrew Knaak appeared in behalf of the defendant, while District Attorney Brian Wright appeared for the prosecution.

Discussion took place in connection with the defense’s motion to compel the prosecution to turn over various items requested by the defense through a pretrial discovery process.

After about half an hour of discussion, Circuit Court Judge James C. Babler ruled there was good cause for the defense to request a continuance in the case.

The Aug. 24-28 trial was cancelled, and Babler ordered defense attorneys to notify him and the District Attorney’s office no later than Oct. 15 whether or not an expert witness would be retained to testify in the case.

All other pretrial motions are to be filed no later than Nov. 1, 2020, court records said.

The jury trial was rescheduled for Feb. 15, 2021.

According to a complaint filed Aug. 14, 2019, a Turtle Lake officer found Bents’ body in a yard behind the apartment building where he lived with the defendant.

The complaint said the officer found and arrested the defendant at the home of a neighbor, where she had apparently gone to take a shower after the incident.