Accused Dickinson shooter found in contempt
DICKINSON, N.D. A Southwest District Judge found a 61-year-old man accused of a break-in and shooting in contempt of court during a hearing Tuesday. Joel Wetzel was removed from a Stark County courtroom after refusing to stop talking when the jud...
A Southwest District Judge found a 61-year-old man accused of a break-in and shooting in contempt of court during a hearing Tuesday.
Joel Wetzel was removed from a Stark County courtroom after refusing to stop talking when the judge asked several times for him to be quiet.
"You're acting like communists here and suspending my rights," Wetzel said, adding he was not treated with respect.
He feels his rights have been violated because he will not be allowed to represent himself at his trial, which begins Monday.
Wetzel faces five felony charges for allegedly breaking into a Dickinson home, shooting a door and injuring a resident in July 2008, according to a criminal complaint.
Wetzel is also accused of pointing a gun at officers who responded to the incident. Sgt. Dan Brown then shot Wetzel in the torso, according to authorities.
However, Wetzel disputes all charges and claims he was shot, unprovoked, in the back by three officers who responded to the incident.
Herauf said Wetzel was being disruptive at the hearing.
"I make the finding at this time that his conduct is nothing short of intentional," Herauf said. "Because of that, he is in contempt of court."
Wetzel will be allowed to testify at his trial as long as he is not disruptive, Herauf said. If he causes a disruption during his trial, Herauf said he will not be allowed to be in the courtroom unless he can be respectful.
"I have absolutely no choice," Herauf said. "I need to maintain some type of respect in the courtroom."
It may be possible for Wetzel to view the trial, but that has not been determined.
It is unclear whether Wetzel will face charges for being in contempt of court. His attorney, Kelly Armstrong, said it's a possibility.
"I think it's more of a mechanism of control," Armstrong said.
The Dickinson Press and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.