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Monday, February 19, 2018

Joel Grimes of Savage testifies in Wiseman murder trial.Matthew Wiseman’s family members reacts to photos of the crime scene shown during the trial Tuesday.Dawson County Deputy Sheriff Ross Canen testifies during the trialSeth Warren testifies

Day 2 testimony: Grimes testimony reveals events after Wiseman murder (SLIDESHOW)

By Anthony Varriano

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Joel Grimes of Savage appeared before Dawson County Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Richard Simonton to testify in the jury trial for Levi Stark regarding the murder of Matthew Wiseman.

Grimes owns a tattoo parlor and a few apartments in Savage and was Stark’s acquaintance. He at one point had accompanied Stark to Williston to confront a man Stark suspected of sleeping with his girlfriend, Jessica Grossman Miller.

Grimes was also with Stark the night of the murder, despite trying to avoid him. Grimes said Stark sent him a text message asking if he wanted to do some “dirt work” earlier in the evening of Dec. 21, 2012. Grimes testified that he said “no” and thought it meant beating someone up or killing someone.

According to court testimony, Grimes attended a wedding reception in Sidney Dec. 21, but received a text message from Stark saying, “You need to come home. I’m outside your place.”

Grimes had his mother, who also lives on the property, open up one of the apartments for Stark. He wasn’t in a hurry to go home, and he was slowed further when he was pulled over by a law enforcement officier on his way to Savage.

When Grimes arrived at home, he went to his mother’s place to “snag a pistol cuz I didn’t know what was going on,” but he couldn’t find one, and proceeded to the apartment Stark was in unarmed.

That’s when Grimes saw a gun and clothes covered in blood.

“It looked like fake blood. It was so bright. It didn’t look real,” he said.

Grimes, a certified EMT, said he had never seen so much blood. 

Grimes said Stark wanted to get rid of the clothes and the knife used to kill Wiseman. Fearful for his life, Grimes assisted Stark in burning the clothes in a field near the canal between Intake and Fairview, about two or three miles directly south of Savage, according to court testimony.

During the drive, Stark told Grimes about the murder and “how easy it was, and how he thought it would be a little tougher.”

Grimes said Stark was incredibly calm, saying, “I get more excited walking up the steps to the courthouse.” 

After burning the clothes, Grimes said he drove Stark back to the apartments, and Stark told him to get rid of the surveillance video. But Grimes hid it in an old car instead. The tape was later turned over to law enforcement and was instrumental in corroborating Grimes’ testimony.

When asked whether he knows if he’ll be prosecuted for tampering with evidence, Grimes replied, “I was a lot more worried about death than jail.”

Defense attorney Matt Wald made note of Grimes’ concern for himself and why it took so long for him to come forward. Stark had been incarcerated for over a year before Grimes came forward.

Grimes said he received threats from Grossman, whose parents were bikers and didn’t like rats, and said he feared the police could not protect him. After Grossman came forward, Grimes said he felt more comfortable giving testimony.

Grossman is expected to take the stand today.


See Sunday, May 11, 2014 print edition of the Ranger Review for the entire story.



DAY 1 TESTIMONY: Murder trial underway, victim's wife testifies

Kelsea Wiseman was the first witness to testify against Levi Stark who is accused of stabbing and killing her husband, Matthew Wiseman.




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