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Jurors Hear Two Different Takes On Jelinek's Death

CENTER CITY, Minn. (WCCO) – After numerous delays, the trial began Monday for a Chisago County man accused of providing drugs that killed his ex-girlfriend.

Aaron Schnagl is facing third-degree murder charges following the 2012 death of 27-year-old Danielle Jelinek.

The Oakdale woman was reported missing in December of that year. Authorities found her body five months later in a swamp near Schnagl's home.

An autopsy found drugs and alcohol in Jelinek's system, but no exact cause of death was listed.

Leading up to Monday, the case against Schnagl faced numerous delays, due in part to Schnagl facing drug charges and other legal issues.

But this week attorneys for both sides were ready to put the case before a jury, and they had very different versions of how Jelinek lost her life.

Opening arguments inside the Chisago County courtroom took jurors back to Dec. 8, 2012, when Jelinek visited Schnagl at his home, drank and did cocaine.

Prosecutors argued that Schnagl provided the drugs which caused Jelinek to overdose.

They believe instead of calling for help, Schnagl dumped the 27-year-old's body in a nearby pond and tried to hide the crime, a feat helped by a snow storm.

The defense had a different version of events.

They argued that Jelinek purchased the cocaine on her own, left Schangl's home while he was asleep, and died from exposure.

Prosecutors relied on a 45-minute, taped conversation between Schnagl and the first responding officer to visit his home after Jelinek was reported missing.

In it, Schnagl is heard saying, "I woke up in my bed and she was gone." He described the night of Dec. 8, 2012, as being nothing out of the ordinary.

He is also heard getting angry and frustrated with the officer.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

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