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Edwin Hawes' office had been ransacked, he'd told a friend. As Hawes sifted through his belongings, the friend testified Wednesday in Anoka County court, he discovered a terse note:

"I'm going to kill you," it said, according to testimony.

At the third day of Andrew Hawes' trial in the 2008 killing of his older brother, Edwin, witness after witness testified about how the family's dynamics had deteriorated.

The business partnership between the brothers had splintered so severely that Edwin, 46, eventually bought a gun for protection, said Ursula Weltman. She urged Edwin to move, she testified. She asked him to live with her ailing father at his Andover home.

Andrew Hawes, 37, and his sister, Elizabeth, had accused Edwin of embezzling $1 million of the family's business and personal trust funds, several witnesses testified. The siblings talked about Edwin using a dead relative's name to get at family money, said Bryan Leary, a member of Andrew's team of public defenders.

Glen Bona, a special agent with the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service, wrote in a 2008 report that "Ed Hawes appears to have taken money from his grandmother without her best interests in mind" -- a report that Leary read for emphasis before Judge Sharon Hall and the jury.

But when Bona told Andrew and Elizabeth that the statute of limitations had run out on funds allegedly mishandled between 2000 and 2002 and that the state court of appeals declined to review the case, Elizabeth became upset, but her "demeanor wasn't as fidgety and agitated as Andy," Bona testified Wednesday. During one phone call, Bona said, Andrew told him "his brother Ed had tried to poison him by making special water" and asking Andrew to drink it.

Andrew Hawes' attorneys say it was his brother-in-law, Daniel Romig, who shot Edwin with a crossbow in late October 2008 and then apparently bludgeoned him with a hammer. A bloodied hammer later was found in the locked trunk of Edwin's car. But Romig, Elizabeth Hawes' husband, has not been charged, and, on Wednesday, every investigator called to the witness stand testified, when asked by the prosecution, of not being familiar with Romig's name. Romig's lawyer has dismissed the allegation.

In the days after Edwin's killing, Anoka County deputies discovered a crossbow, arrows and a baseball bat on or near the property. All were spray-painted black, the jury was told Wednesday morning. What the jury did not hear was that black spray paint was found in the garage of the residence in which Andrew Hawes was living at the time.

Leary told Judge Hall before the jury entered the courtroom that there is no evidence that Hawes spray-painted any of the items. Hall responded by saying "it was circumstantial evidence" but "appropriate evidence."

In January, Elizabeth Hawes, 45, was convicted of first-degree murder in the case and sentenced to life without parole. She and Andrew are accused of transporting Edwin's body to a farm 200 miles away, where his remains allegedly were burned in a fire pit. Andrew's fiancée, Kristina Dorniden, also is charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder.

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419