Weather Forecast


Attorneys: Evaluation found murder suspect mentally fit

FINLEY — One of Sherry Midstokke’s two court-ordered mental evaluations states that she was competent when she allegedly murdered her husband at their Finley home in February, according to her lawyer.

Attorney Blake Hankey said he and his colleagues still believe the 61-year-old was mentally ill at the time of the alleged murder. The results from Midstokke’s second mental evaluation, being conducted by medical experts chosen by Hankey’s office, have not yet been returned, Hankey said.

The first evaluation, which Hankey said ruled Midstokke as competent, was conducted by the North Dakota State Hospital. Those results were returned about a month ago, he said.

He hopes the results from the second mental evaluation will be returned in the next couple of weeks, he said.

Midstokke told investigators in an interview Feb. 3 that she killed her husband, Lyle Midstokke, 66, that morning, using a combination of drugs and asphyxiation, according to court documents.

Delayed hearings

Waiting for the results of the two mental evaluations has been the main delay in Midstokke’s court case, Hankey said. The court hearings started in February after her arrest.

The other reason for delay was a clerical error in transferring the jury trial from Steele County, where Finley is located, to Cass County, Hankey said. All of Midstokke’s court proceedings were accidentally transferred to Cass County, so all but the jury trial had to be transferred back to Steele County, he said.

Hankey had requested the jury trial be transferred to Cass County with the reasoning that it would be difficult to find an unbiased jury in the small populations of Finley and Steele County.

Finley has an estimated population of 440, and Steele County has about 1,960 people, according to the U.S. census.

Hankey said he expects the next hearing in Midstokke’s case to be scheduled for some time in August, but nothing has been scheduled yet.

Midstokke is in custody at the Cass County Jail because Steele County does not have a jail.

Charly Haley

Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.