Man found guilty of felony assault in September 2012 ‘road rage’ incident

A 73-year-old Cambridge man has been found guilty of felony assault stemming from a September 2012 road rage incident that escalated into a shooting in the Isanti Police Department parking lot.

Joseph Duane Kadlec was charged in October 2012 in Isanti County District Court with felony second-degree murder (with intent, not premeditated); felony second-degree murder, drive-by shooting; felony first-degree assault, causing great bodily harm; felony second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, causing substantial bodily harm; felony first-degree attempted manslaughter; and felony discharge of a dangerous weapon in a municipality.

Joseph Duane Kadlec
Joseph Duane Kadlec

Kadlec pleaded not guilty to all charges in December 2012, and in May 2013, the second-degree murder, drive-by shooting, charge was dismissed.

On Friday, March 14, a jury found Kadlec guilty of the first- and second-degree assault charges and discharge of a dangerous weapon. The jury found Kadlec not guilty of second-degree murder, and was a hung jury on the attempted manslaughter charge.

Assistant County Attorney Bob Bieniek prosecuted the case on behalf of the Isanti County Attorney’s Office. Jury deliberations began around noon Tuesday, March 11, and went until 9 p.m. They were not in session Wednesday due to court unavailability, but deliberated again on Thursday, and then again Friday morning until 10:30 a.m.

“On behalf of the Isanti County Attorney’s Office, I greatly appreciate and thank the jury for the hard work and diligence shown by this jury in weighing the evidence and delivering the guilty verdicts for first-degree and second- degree assault against Joseph Kadlec,” Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad said.

Sentencing for Kadlec is scheduled for June 25 before Judge James Dehn. Edblad explained the presumptive sentence for first-degree assault under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines is a commitment to prison of seven years and two months.

The incident took place Sept. 29, 2012. According to the criminal complaint, witnesses saw Kyle William Ronning, of Columbia Heights, and another motorcyclist, trying to pass Kadlec heading southbound on Highway 65 between Cambridge and Isanti. When the motorcyclists tried to pass, witnesses said Kadlec swerved his vehicle toward them.

Kadlec then turned onto County Road 5 and headed west toward the Isanti Police Department with the motorcyclists following. An incident ensued, and as officers walked out of the police department, they heard a gunshot and saw Ronning holding his mouth. The officers observed a 9 mm handgun lying on the driver’s seat of Kadlec’s car and took possession of it.

When officers looked closer at Ronning, they observed a large quantity of blood, shattered teeth, a lot of damaged tissue, and determined he had been shot in the face. It appeared there was a bullet protruding from the lower portion of the right ear, which appeared to be where the bullet was lodged.

Edblad noted in addition to numerous traffic complaints, law enforcement records showed Kadlec was the subject of five prior road rage incidents from 2008 through 2010.

“It is my desire that through this verdict and sentence that public safety will be served by holding accountable an individual who, rather than calling law enforcement if he had concerns about how  another motorist was driving, decided to take matters into his own hands — first trying to run the other motorist off the road and then resorted to driving to the parking lot of the Isanti Police Department,  where instead of letting law enforcement deal with his concerns and the situation that he had escalated through his own aggressive driving, Kadlec resorted to retrieving a handgun from his vehicle and shooting the other motorist in the head,” Edblad said.

“With his history of aggressive driving, his temper, his shooting another person in the face with a handgun and his violation of a court order as it relates to conditions of release, Kadlec has shown himself to be a public safety concern,” Edblad continued. Kadlec was ordered not to drive a motor vehicle except for medical reasons but allegedly violated that court order; he was stopped in Pine County, Minn., on Feb. 12, 2014, for driving his vehicle 90 mph in a posted 70 zone.

“As a community we were very fortunate that no one, including the victim or any other motorist, were killed as a result of Kadlec’s actions on the day of the offense,” Edblad said.

He said an extensive amount of work went into the Kadlec case and said he is proud of the team approach demonstrated by his office.

Edblad noted the work of legal assistant Karen Nelson, who coordinated the notices and subpoenas for all of the witnesses; victim service advocates Brenda Skogman and Cheryl Terhaar; Bieniek, for not only litigating the lengthy trial, but also prosecuting a hearing that allowed the admissibility of Kadlec’s prior incidents of “road rage” into the trial; and Assistant County Attorneys Dave Kraemer, Tim Nelson, Deanna Natoli and Jill Olson for their willingness to cover additional cases while Bieniek worked on the Kadlec case.