A rural Sebeka man who pleaded guilty to shooting up a pickup with three occupants has been sentenced to 240 days in the Wadena County jail and 10 years probation.
Logan William Skov, 19, originally faced three counts of second degree attempted murder and three counts of second degree manslaughter for the Oct. 6 incident at a party near Bluegrass.
He pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of third degree attempted murder in April, but his public defender and the prosecutor agreed to change the plea deal early this month. Under the amended deal, Skov pleaded guilty June 6 to two counts of first degree assault, which called for 86 months in prison.
At a June 10 hearing, Judge Sally Ireland Robertson departed from the sentencing guidelines, keeping Skov out of prison if he abides by the courts' conditions during 10 years of supervised probation. If he doesn't, he'll have to execute the 86 month (43 for each count, to be served consecutively) stayed sentence.
Skov is now serving a 240 day (120 for each count) stint in the county jail. He was given credit for 15 days time served. If he qualifies for the "good time" credit, Skov will be released Nov. 4, according to jail records.
During 120 days of house arrest upon his release, Skov will be allowed to go to work and school. In lieu of $2,000 in fines, he's required to complete 100 hours of community service. Robertson also ordered Skov to pay restitution - $500 to the truck owner and $4,932 to the insurance company. He must refrain from mood altering substances, assaultive behavior and contact with the victims.
Assistant Otter Tail County Attorney Kurt Mortenson, the special prosecutor assigned to the case because Skov's mother is a Wadena County employee, had asked Robertson to stick to the sentencing guidelines, but acknowledged "the judge has the latitude" to depart from them.
"The state respects the decision of the court," Mortenson said last week.
In a report explaining her decision to impose a lesser sentence, Robertson noted Skov shows remorse and accepts responsibility for his crime. The judge wrote that she based her decision on the fact the shooting resulted in no physical injuries, Skov has no prior criminal history, he was only 18 years old when the crime occurred, he demonstrates "amenability to probation," and many community members have attested to his good character.
"The balancing of the downward dispositional departure with consecutive stayed sentences avoids exaggerating the criminality of the offenses and takes into account various sentencing objectives, including retribution, rehabilitation, public protection, restitution, deterrence and public condemnation of criminal conduct as well as the characteristics of the offender," Robertson wrote.
Skov's public defender Ryan Ries filed a memo in May requesting a reduced sentence.
"The current charge resulted from very poor judgement and raw emotion on Mr. Skov's part during a single evening in his life, as detailed in his letter to the Court," Ries wrote. "His goal is to progress through his probation so his future can be better than his decisions of this night. He understands that he will be on probation for a significant period of time."
There were 50 pages of letters from family and friends attached to the memo that "show (Skov not only has the character to better himself but also the support he will need," Ries wrote. "He accepts responsibility for his actions and wants to improve his life."
Ries pointed out that Skov has been accepted to the heavy equipment operation program at Central Lakes College and was awarded a substantial scholarship.
In a letter to the judge, Deana Malone, Skov's mother, described her son as a devout Christian with a strong work ethic.
"Logan is not a criminal, most certainly not a murderer," Malone wrote. "He is not a threat to himself or society, and, although I am his mother, anyone who knows him will tell you the same thing ... He is a young man who made a decision on impulse that put him in a situation he never would have imagined for himself and one that will certainly have a bearing on his life, but he is also a man who has chosen not to give up on the rest of his life."
Wrote long-time family friend Ryan Eastlund: "(Skov) was never mean to people in any way. He was always ready to lend a helping hand, whether it was at the farm or with the community."
During an Oct. 8 interview with investigators, Skov admitted to firing his .22 rifle with a banana clip into the driver's side of a Ford F-150 with three occupants, Zachary Neuenschwander and Michael Poplin of Wadena and Karl Natschke of Illinois. Skov said he blacked out on the night of the party and woke up the next morning "terrified and unsure of what to do," adding he "usually doesn't flip out and start shooting stuff up."
Describing the night of the incident at the April plea hearing, Skov said Neuenschwander, the owner of the pickup, started "whipping cookies" when the three men were asked to leave after being involved in a couple fights, and Neuenschwander struck Skov's truck in the process.
"Why did you do what you did?" Mortenson asked Skov.
"I just wanted them to stop so they wouldn't hurt anybody," Skov responded.
Neuenschwander and Poplin - along with all of the witnesses listed in the criminal complaint - didn't respond to repeated requests for comment.
Natschke expressed his disappointment with Skov's sentence through a Facebook message sent to the Pioneer Journal.
"Personally I think 240 days will do nothing but confirm that Logan-like behavior is expectable," Natschke wrote. "It's obvious we're dealing with an undereducated group of extremists. I feel sorry for the people they harm next ..."