GRAFTON, N.D.-A Grafton man will spend almost 15 years in prison in connection to what Pembina County prosecutors say is the worst attack on a law enforcement officer they have seen.
Clifford Edward Monteith III, 27, signed a plea agreement that would drop four charges, including a Class A felony count of attempted murder, if he pleaded guilty to simple assault, disarming or attempting to disarm a law enforcement officer and breaking into a vehicle, all Class C felonies, as well as misdemeanor charges of menacing and criminal mischief.
Judge Laurie Fontaine sentenced Monteith on Monday in Pembina County District Court to five years in prison for each Class C felony to be served consecutively. Jail time for the menacing and criminal mischief charges were suspended, and he received 134 days credit for time served.
"What we were looking for was definitely a sentence that would serve the interest in protecting the community, and he will be off the street for 15 years, which is substantial," Pembina County State's Attorney Ryan Bialas said. "At 15 years, there is no doubt in my mind he will be able to go in and complete programs in order to keep him safe from himself as well as the community safe from him in the long run."
Monteith also was ordered to pay $560 in fines.
The sentence follows a June 5 traffic stop in which Monteith attacked Pembina County Deputy Brad Bowman with a hunting knife, according to court documents. Charges state Monteith punched and head-butted Bowman multiple times and tried to take the deputy's gun from him. Bowman used a Taser on Monteith, who fought it off, and ran to his patrol car to escape the attack, which ended when the deputy shot Monteith three times. After kicking the side of the patrol car, Monteith fled but eventually was arrested.
Bowman "feared for his life" and was injured during the attack but since has made a full recovery. Monteith also recovered from his injuries.
The defendant faced 44 years in prison and a $73,500 fine, but his attorney, Erik Escarraman, said he thought his client was remorseful.
"I think what has happened was a tragedy for everyone, including himself," Escarraman said. "It should help him enable a new life. I think this is the start of a path forward."
Monteith had a long history of criminal cases, including theft, driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated assault.