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Grand Forks man accused of breaking into home before being shot by deputies changes plea

His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5.

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GRAND FORKS – A Grand Forks man, accused of breaking into a Grand Forks County couple’s house and trying to steal their pickup before being shot by a pair of sheriffs deputies earlier this year, has changed his plea in the case.

Joseph Espinoza, 38, was charged with robbery, burglary, criminal mischief, reckless driving, driving under suspension, leaving the scene of an accident, attempted theft of property, theft of a firearm, terrorizing, reckless endangerment, and theft after he allegedly crashed a stolen vehicle and attempted to enter a nearby house on Feb. 7. Espinoza then tried to break into the house, which resulted in a physical altercation with the two residents in which he stole their gun.

Espinoza exited the residence and entered a vehicle belonging to the homeowners. He was attempting to find the keys when GFSO deputies arrived on scene, the Herald previously reported. Espinoza was ordered to drop the gun several times, but refused to do so. He continued to approach the two officers, so they both fired their weapons at him. According to an affidavit, Espinoza was struck in the left leg at least once, and was then transported to Altru hospital by EMS.

If the plea agreement is accepted, Espinoza will face a maximum of 15 years in prison with credit for time served. Following his release, he will have three years of supervised probation.

His charges for theft of a firearm, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident will be dismissed if the plea agreement is accepted.

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All of his counts will be sentenced concurrently.

If accepted by the judge, Espinoza’s theft of property case will have a sentence of 10 years at the state prison with all but credit for time served suspended. He will have to pay $7,856.84 in restitution to the victims.

Espinoza’s sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 5.

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