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Murder Suspect Released From Jail

Last updated on Sunday, March 25, 2012

(DALE) - A Spencer County man accused of murder this week is free - for now.

Kayla Moody reports prosecutors decided not to file formal charges against George Kjelsen, 52. Indiana State Police arrested Kjelsen after they say he shot and killed his neighbor Rick Persohn, 54 at Hill Crest Apartments in Dale.

Prosecutors say questions remain about what happened, and they plan to take the case to a Grand Jury. Kjelson was released from Spencer County Jail pending the Grand Jury hearing.

Neighbors in Hill Crest Apartments are now at odds. It started with the simmering tension between the two men and a deadly argument.

"I think it was a long time building. I mean they didn't care for each other," says neighbor Thomas Lyons.

"He didn't deserve what he got," says neighbor Lisa Shepherd.

The people who live in this complex are divided over the release of Kjelsen - the man Indiana State Police say pulled the trigger.

"Unbelievable. I couldn't believe it. I didn't think they'd release him like that," says Shepherd. "He needs to be put back in jail where he belongs."

"It's not like he's bothering anybody or scaring anybody and nobody's panicking or anything," said Lyons.

Neighbors are divided on which man is the victim. Lyons says Persohn often threatened Kjelson. "That's not the first time he's threatened him. I've actually, with my own ears, heard him threaten him more than probably 15 times."

But Shepherd says Persohn is the victim.

"No, it wasn't self-defense." Shepherd says two of her close friends witnessed Persohn get shot. "They saw George turn, straighten his arm out and pull the trigger as Rick was walking away," she says. "He's walking away from a man, unarmed, with his back to him and now he's dead. That's not justice for Rick. He didn't deserve that."

"I can't really say if Rick really deserved it," says Thomas. "But there's probably a lot of people who could probably tell you he did."

Kjelson says the truth of what really happened will come out in the Grand Jury. In the meantime Kjelson will continue to walk the streets of his neighborhood.

The Spencer County prosecutor says the case is not as "cut and dry" as it first appeared. She says a significant amount of additional evidence made it necessary to call for a Grand Jury to determine if Kjelson will be formally charged.

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