A man who confessed to emptying a rifle clip at a pickup truck with three occupants pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge at the Wadena County Courthouse.
Logan William Skov, 19, of rural Sebeka, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted murder for the Oct. 6 shooting at a party near Bluegrass.
Skov had already admitted to firing his .22 rifle at a pickup that contained Zachary Neuenshwander and Michael Poplin of Wadena and Karl Natschke of Illinois. During an Oct. 8 interview with a sheriff's office investigator, Skov said he "usually doesn't flip out and start shooting stuff up."
Skov's public defender and the prosecutor reached a plea agreement that replaced the original charges -- three counts of second-degree attempted murder and three counts of second-degree manslaughter.
The state is asking for Skov, who has no prior criminal history, to serve 75 months in prison, pay restitution to the victims and pay a fine and fees as determined by the court.
Ryan Ries, Skov's attorney, said the defense will file a motion to ask for a reduced or stayed sentence.
"The state is planning to oppose the motion," said Assistant Otter Tail County Attorney Kurt Mortonson, the special prosecutor assigned to the case because Skov's mother is a Wadena County employee.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Natschke said the punishment recommended in the plea agreement doesn't match the crime.
"I think it's terrible," he said. "(Skov) tried to kill three people, and he's going to get off with less than six years. I just don't feel that there was any justice served whatsoever."
Poplin and Neuenshwander - along with all of the witnesses listed in the criminal complaint - didn't respond to repeated requests for comment.
A person is guilty of third-degree attempted murder if he commits an act "eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life," according to state statute. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 12½ years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
Judge Sally Ireland Robertson deferred formal acceptance of the plea agreement until Skov's sentencing hearing, scheduled for June 10. Robertson reminded Skov that she is not bound by the 75-month sentence recommended in the plea agreement.
Skov pleaded guilty, then he took the stand.
Mortonson asked Skov to describe the night of the incident.
It started out as a "typical teenage party," Skov said. He said the victims showed up between 10:30 p.m. and midnight. The three men, Skov said, were involved in a couple of fights so people tried to make them leave.
That's when Neuenshwander, the owner of the pickup, started "whipping cookies," Skov said, hitting Skov's truck in the process.
"Why did you do what you did?" asked Mortonson, who noted investigators determined more than 20 rounds were fired into the driver's side of the truck.
"I just wanted them to stop so they wouldn't hurt anybody," Skov said.
Skov declined to comment after the hearing.
He'll remain under house arrest until his sentencing. The house arrest terms allow him to go to school, work, medical appointments, church and his family ranch. The court has ordered Skov to refrain from mood-altering substances and assaultive or abusive behavior. He's also restricted from possessing firearms or contacting the victims.
By Bryce Haugen, Wadena Pioneer Journal