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Defendant in murder case tries to go it alone at Monday hearing

The omnibus hearing for a Menahga man charged with the sexual asphyxiation of a Park Rapids teen has been continued until June 24.

Harley David Leritz, 21, has been simultaneously charged with a probation violation for a 2012 criminal sexual conduct charge and for the murder of Keila Gem Knowles, 19, in her Park Rapids apartment, in February. He is charged with Second Degree Murder in Knowles’ case.

Leritz appeared in Hubbard County District Court Monday before Judge Robert Tiffany. There was some confusion as to his intentions when it was discovered he filed his own motion to remove Tiffany. That impetus likely came from fellow inmates at the Hubbard County jail.

It was a bit unclear what the removal entailed since the date to remove a judge from the case has passed, but Tiffany assured the defendant Judge Paul Rasussen would likely hear the contested portion of the omnibus hearing, then the case would revert to Tiffany.

Leritz is apparently challenging the collection of evidence from the murder scene.

Leritz has previously been convicted of traffic and liquor charges, except for the Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge in 2012, which involved an underage female.

For that crime he received 30 days in jail and 10 years of supervised probation.

Sarah Smith, Park Rapids Enterprise

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