The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 23, 2013

Minissale charged with first-degree murder

Suspect accused of cutting woman's throat

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — A man arrested in June for allegedly killing a Mankato woman in her home has been charged with first-degree murder.

A grand jury was convened Monday to start hearing evidence gathered during the investigation of the murder of 20 year-old Yesenia Gonzalez. The man suspected of murdering her, 24-year-old Levi Spencer Minissale of Minneapolis, was arrested June 6 after allegedly cutting Gonzalez's throat with a hunting knife at her home.

The grand jury's first-degree murder indictment, which is required for a first-degree murder charge in Minnesota, was filed Tuesday in Blue Earth County. Grand jury proceedings are secret and jurors are sworn to secrecy before witnesses are called and evidence is presented.

Investigators also reported Minissale attempted to kill Gonzalez's husband, Galo Buccio. He told police he was sleeping while Gonzalez and Minissale were talking in another room and woke up as Minissale was attacking him. Gonzalez survived long enough to wake Buccio's father.

Buccio's father called for help and Minissale ran from the couple's Second Avenue house. He was arrested after he was found in a bathroom at the nearby Holiday convenience store on Riverfront Drive.

Minissale allegedly brought the hunting knife into the house with him when he stopped to visit Gonzalez while traveling back to Minneapolis from Sioux Falls, S.D. Minissale and Gonzalez had been involved in a relationship as recently as February, but it was broken at some point before the slaying.

Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott announced his intention to seek a first-degree murder charge during a hearing July 11. After that hearing, Minissale's attorney, Brock Hunter, said he wasn't surprised by the decision.

Hunter also said he had requested a psychological evaluation for Minissale, who is a military veteran who had made a request for treatment through the Veterans Administration for migraine headaches and other disabilities related to combat and post traumatic stress.

Minissale, who was discharged from the Marines in June 2012, served in Afghanistan's violent Sangin District in 2011, Hunter said. The VA had recommended a psychological evaluation for Minssale before his arrest, but he hadn't been seen by doctors.