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There's gradual movement in Thompson murder case

A Cloquet man accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend and her young son was in court virtually March 4, as his new attorney and prosecutors met to decide on dates for an important contested omnibus hearing delayed by grand jury proceedings last fall.

It was the first hearing for 34-year-old Sheldon Thompson since that Carlton County grand jury voted to charge him with five counts of first-degree murder in October 2020.

In total, Thompson faces eight charges: two charges of murder in the first degree, premeditated and murder in the first degree, domestic abuse for the deaths of Jackie Ann Defoe and her son Kevin Lee Shabaiash Jr., and one charge of murder in the first degree of an unborn child, premeditated. He also faces two charges of murder in the second degree — intent, and murder in the second degree of an unborn child — intent.

According to the criminal complaint, Fond du Lac police officers responded to a call for service on March 7, 2020, from someone who said they had spoken with Thompson the previous day, and said Thompson allegedly told them he had killed Jackie DeFoe and her son.

When Fond du Lac officers went to DeFoe’s residence on Locke Lane and knocked on the door, they did not get a response. They couldn’t see inside, but observed damage to the door.

After police received a search warrant to enter the home later that day, they found DeFoe in a closet with stab wounds. She had been 13 weeks pregnant. They found her son’s body in another bedroom, with observable bruising around the head. Both bodies were concealed under blankets and clothing and the doors had been screwed shut.

According to the criminal complaint, Thompson allegedly told numerous people that he had killed DeFoe and her child.

Police attempts to locate Thompson, who had lived at the home intermittently, were initially unsuccessful. Eventually, Thompson called 911 and indicated that he wanted to turn himself in but when police arrived, he wasn’t there. With the assistance of a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter and a K-9 from the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, he was located in a wooded area off Mission Road in Perch Lake Township and taken into custody March 8, 2020. Thompson has been in custody at the Carlton County jail since he was arrested, with bail still set at $1 million, with no 10-percent cash option.

While there have been no hearings since November, the case has not been idle. While in-person hearings were suspended, there have been motions filed, discovery disclosures and dozens of “e-Service” communications between the prosecution, defense and the courts.

Thompson’s new attorney is Steve Bergeson, assistant state public defender and a member of the Public Defender Trial Team, which specializes in high-profile cases. Bergeson’s areas of expertise include violent person crime, mental illness and white collar crime and fraud, according to his LinkedIn page.

Judge Jill Eichenwald set a contested omnibus hearing for 1:30 p.m. June 9. It is not known if that hearing will be held in person or virtually.