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Man charged in fatal Alexandria stabbing pleads guilty to lesser charge

Phillip Altstadt1 / 2
Kody Klimek2 / 2

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—A 30-year-old Alexandria man accused in a 2013 fatal stabbing pleaded guilty to count one of manslaughter Monday, Feb. 26.

Kody Lee Klimek was charged last September with two second-degree murder counts — intentional and unintentional — and a third-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of Phillip Altstadt, 28, on June 1, 2013, outside an apartment complex in Alexandria.

In May 2014, Klimek faced the same charges, but they were dismissed because two key witnesses could not be located. However, according to a criminal complaint, the prosecution found both witnesses last year. Charges were filed again and a trial date had been set for March 5.

But instead of going to trial, Klimek pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree, Monday at the Douglas County Courthouse. A sentencing hearing is set for May 10.

Klimek is expected to be sentenced to four years and will be given credit for the time he's already served behind bars, said Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson.

Dressed in dark blue jail clothes with his feet and hands handcuffed and shackled, Klimek was escorted into the courtroom with his lawyers — Brockton Hunter and Ryan Else — at his side.

Prior to pleading guilty, Klimek was claiming self-defense in the stabbing.

Hunter and Klimek provided a recount of the stabbing during the hearing.

Klimek said he and Altstadt had gotten into an altercation in a parking lot and that Altstadt charged at him and he reached into his pocket for his pocket knife. Klimek also said prior to the altercation, he saw Altstadt take drugs in his apartment.

"He shot up right in front of me, meth and morphine. He was extremely high," Klimek recalled. Klimek also said Altstadt was "unstoppable."

After he pulled his knife from his pocket, Klimek said it fell on the pavement and both he and Altstadt "scrambled for it."

Klimek told the judge that Altstadt tried to gain control but that he got to the knife and Klimek told Judge Ann Carrott, "I pushed it in his heart."

Klimek was asked by his lawyer, "You are entering a guilty plea now because you produced the knife in the first place?" Klimek answered, "Yes."

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses said that after Klimek shouted to Altstadt, Altstadt approached him, yelled back and pushed Klimek, who retaliated with a knife.

A witness said the push didn't appear to be "very hard," according to the complaint.

Police officers found Altstadt lying in the grass with stab wounds to his arm and chest. He died a short time later.

Klimek was apprehended by police at gunpoint within 40 minutes of the 911 call and had a bloody knife in his possession.

The arresting officer reported there was blood on Klimek's face, hands and clothing. Once in the squad car, Klimek told the officer, "He came at me, I was scared for my life," according to the complaint.

Altstadt was born in Detroit Lakes. He later attended high school in Alexandria, graduating in 2003. He went on to study at Alexandria Technical and Community College.

Klimek will be directly transported to a state prison in St. Cloud Prison to wait for his sentencing hearing in May.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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