Attempted murder charge dropped for Warroad manJoseph Heppner and his family got what they were hoping for Friday. The 24-year-old who once faced an attempted murder charge for firing a loaded handgun in the direction of his older brother pleaded guilty to a lesser felony in Cass County District Court and won’t do prison time.
By: Dave Roepke, The Forum
FARGO — Joseph Heppner and his family got what they were hoping for Friday.
The 24-year-old who once faced an attempted murder charge for firing a loaded handgun in the direction of his older brother pleaded guilty to a lesser felony in Cass County District Court and won’t do prison time.
Sam Heppner, the older brother at whom Heppner allegedly aimed the gun, had asked Judge Steven Marquart for leniency and said his brother shouldn’t have even been arrested.
“I know he couldn’t try to do bodily damage to any human being,” Sam Heppner said.
Heppner’s parents made a similar plea, saying the 102 days he served in jail have nudged their son in the right direction.
Marquart agreed, giving Heppner a yearlong sentence with all but 102 days suspended — meaning his only time locked up will be the days already spent in jail. He’ll also be on supervised probation for five years after pleading guilty Friday to reckless endangerment — a reduction from attempted murder.
“I think you’ve learned your lesson,” Marquart said.
Ryan Younggren, an assistant Cass County State’s Attorney, had asked for a five-year term with all but two years suspended.
Younggren said he has a brother and he knows how fraternal fights can easily get physical, but he said he could never see those scuffles involving a gun.
At the time of his Nov. 23 arrest, police said Heppner pulled the trigger twice on a loaded pistol pointed in the direction of his brother, who was sitting on a couch.
The gun did not fire, and Younggren said ballistics testing later showed the firing pin was broken.
Sam Heppner said they’d been fighting earlier in the day about money and jobs. He is two years older than Joseph and was his work supervisor, but they didn’t say where in court. Sam Heppner declined to comment after the hearing.
Joseph Heppner told the judge that jail made him a better person who realized that relationships are what matter in life.
“Money? I didn’t have any money in jail,” he said.
If the stint in jail has set him straight, Heppner will stay that way, his mother said. He’s always been all-or-nothing, she said.
“He just shot out like a bullet, and he’s been going that way ever since,” said Miriam Heppner.
The brothers were living in Fargo at the time of the incident, though the Heppner family is originally of Warroad, Minn.
The family includes 16 siblings and was featured in “Kids by the Dozen,” a 2007 miniseries on TLC.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.