CENTER CITY, Minn. (KMSP) - Two very different accounts have emerged as to what happened to Danielle Jelinek inside Aaron Schnagl’s Chisago County home on the snowy night of Dec. 8, 2012.
Prosecutors allege Schnagl and Jelinek, described as intimate friends, partied with cocaine and alcohol when Jelinek began to overdose. They said her eyes rolled back in her head and she began foaming at the mouth. But rather than calling emergency responders, prosecutors told jurors that Schnagl decided his drug dealing business was more important to protect.
Schnagl allegedly brought Jelinek’s lifeless body to a nearby swamp and dropped her there. Searchers wouldn’t find her for more than 5 months. She allegedly only had on a tank top -- no shoes, no pants, nothing else.
“The life of Danielle Jelinek was just the cost of doing business,” Assistant County Attorney Ryan Flynn told the jury.
The defense countered that, yes, there were drugs and there was booze, but the cocaine was Danielle’s and was provided by somebody else. Schnagl’s attorney, Melvin Welch, explained to jurors that Jelinek disappeared in the middle of the night after Schnagl had fallen asleep.
Welch told jurors, “this is not a popularity contest” – that they may not like the guy, but he isn’t guilty of third-degree murder.
Prosecutors have said autopsy photos will show no cuts or bruises on Jelinek’s feet to suggest she walked barefoot across 4 football fields, through woods and into the swamp on her own.
Danielle’s older sister was the first witness of the trial. Her testimony was filled with emotion about the last time she saw Danielle and the family’s reaction when they realized she had disappeared.