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Man accused of bashing wife’s head into granite floor after argument charged with murder

Paul Edward Mart (Mugshot from Otter Tail County Sheriff; Crime scene screenshot from Fargo, North Dakota station KVLY-TV)

Paul Edward Mart (Mugshot from Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office; Crime scene screenshot from Fargo, North Dakota’s KVLY-TV)

A 79-year-old man faces a murder charge after authorities say he bashed his wife’s head into the granite floor and said he found her naked and bloodied body when he woke up before he reportedly called his daughter, admitted to it and threatened “suicide by cop.”

Paul Edward Mart was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Jean Harriette Mart, 77, who reportedly died Saturday or Sunday night. The medical examiner said she suffered from a gunshot wound to the head and blunt force injuries to the head.

Mart was booked into the Otter Tail County Jail, where he was held on $750,000 bail.

News of allegations of violence came out on Monday after Mart’s arrest after an hours-long standoff prompted an evacuation and a response by authorities from multiple police agencies, including a SWAT team, according to a news release from the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota. The Sheriff’s Office got a call about a dead woman at a home in the Big Pine Lake area east of Perham, more than an hour east across the border from Fargo, North Dakota.

The Wadena Pioneer Journal, citing the criminal complaint, reported the suspect allegedly made comments that “he remembered getting into a fight,” “he slammed her head into the granite flooring a few times,” “he cannot forgive himself,” and “probably killed her.”

Fargo, North Dakota’s KVLY-TV reported the suspect had three guns and sounded drunk. He allegedly threatened to shoot at officers if they arrived and said, “they will have to kill him.”

Police brought in a negotiator, and Mart eventually surrendered. He was booked into the Otter Tail County Jail. A gun was found in a trash can, according to media reports.

Mart’s lawyer, Chris Cadem, told the newspaper it was an accident and said no evidence currently links his client to the gun.

“Based again on the information we’ve uncovered in the last 48 hours, we are confident that gunshot residue is going to come back on the hands of the decedent,” he said. “We are very confident that my client will be able to demonstrate this was in fact an accident, that this did not happen by any action or deliberate act by my client, and that he will be exonerated of this charge.”

Otter Tail County Attorney Michelle Eldien filed one count of murder in the second degree against him.

“The charge is an intentional murder based on the evidence that was collected and known when the complaint was filed,” she said in an email to Law&Crime.

His next court date is set for Aug. 2.

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