Suspect indicted on 1st-degree murder charges in killing of SW Minnesota couple


A grand jury has indicted a man accused of shooting a couple in their southwestern Minnesota home, and then setting it on fire.

Derek Hexum, who was previously charged with second-degree murder, was indicted Thursday morning on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Jim and Cathy Hively last April, Marshall Radio reports.

Hexum has also been charged with first-degree arson, second-degree arson, first-degree burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm, court records show.

Two other men – Theodore Como and Kyle Wesslink – were also arrested and charged in connection with the incident. The have both pleaded guilty to charges.

According to the criminal complaint, Como told police he waited outside while Hexum went into the Hively’s residence with a shotgun, then heard four or five shots and a scream. They returned the next day to destroy evidence – Hexum lighting the house on fire, while Como started the garage ablaze, the complaint says.

Hexum, who is on probation after being sentenced for helping his brother flee police following a shooting in Yellow Medicine County, has said he wasn’t involved in the burglary or arson.

Last month, a Lyon County judge rejected Hexum's request to enter a guilty plea because the county attorney was seeking first-degree murder charges against him, KEYC reports, so the plea was put on hold pending an indictment. (In Minnesota, a charge that carries a mandatory life sentence – like first-degree murder – must come from a grand jury indictment.)

Hexum is expected to be arraigned on the first-degree murder charges on March 17, court records show, with his trial slated to begin July 11.

Last fall, CityPages did an extensive story on the three suspects and how their lives led them to the Hively's farmhouse last April. Read it here.

Next Up