A Blue Earth County prosecutor says a grand jury will be called to consider first-degree murder charges against the man accused of killing a woman in a downtown Mankato apartment complex.

Jody Lee Miller, 32, has been jailed since his arrest Feb. 25. A few days later, he was charged with second-degree murder in the beating death, raping and kidnapping of Judith Ellgen.

Now he faces a grand jury, which will decide beginning April 11 whether to hand down a first-degree murder indictment. (In Minnesota, grand jury indictments are required for prosecution of first-degree murder.)

Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said that, between the time he charged Miller with second-degree murder and this week, he had the opportunity to pour over investigative reports. After that, he made the decision to ask a judge to convene a grand jury.

Authorities say Miller, of Mankato, impersonated a fire inspector to get into Ellgen’s apartment. Once inside, they say he beat the 53-year-old woman to death and sexually assaulted her before seeking refuge in a friend’s home and, finally, confessing to police.

Miller worked night shifts buffing floors in businesses for a local company, a neighbor said. Ellgen worked in the food services at Minnesota State University. She was rarely seen outside her apartment, she added. She liked to read and watch television, loved animals and enjoyed going home to visit her family in Holland, Minn.

Once the grand jury begins its work, McDermott said he expected it to take about three days for him to present the prosecution’s case for first-degree murder consideration.

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