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Man charged with trying to set son on fire accused of choking girlfriend, prompting hours-long standoff

THIEF RIVER FALLS--A Thief River Falls man accused of trying to set his son on fire now faces charges after police say he choked and hit two women before prompting an hours-long standoff this weekend.

Michael Roy Nelson
Michael Roy Nelson

THIEF RIVER FALLS-A Thief River Falls man accused of trying to set his son on fire now faces charges after police say he choked and hit two women before prompting an hours-long standoff this weekend.

Michael Roy Nelson, 46, appeared Monday in Pennington County District Court on a felony domestic assault by strangulation charge, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He also faces two misdemeanor charges: domestic assault and assault in the fifth degree, both of which are punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

A judge set bond without condition for $20,000, but Nelson could be released from jail for $10,000 if he promises to follow certain conditions. That includes not leaving Minnesota without court approval, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, having no contact with victims and not possessing firearms.

The recent charges stem from a report Friday night of a fight at an apartment in the 500 block of Main Avenue.

An unnamed victim told police Nelson, her boyfriend, had assaulted her and Christine Lynn Daniels, according to a criminal complaint.


Investigators were told the unnamed victim and Nelson were supposed to haul beets together, but he never showed up. After finding him standing outside his residence and speaking to him, she noticed he was intoxicated and was "acting very strange," according to the complaint. A fight broke out after Nelson allegedly became verbally aggressive, telling his girlfriend he had sexual relations with another woman but claimed it wasn't cheating, according to the complaint.

That's when Nelson grabbed the victim by her neck and choked her, she told investigators. Nelson let go and the victim called Daniels, who came to assist her with others, but he grabbed the girlfriend's throat again, according to the complaint. She said she was able to get him off her, but when she got up he attacked her again, choking and pushing her to the ground, according to the complaint.

Daniels attempted to break up the fight, but Nelson allegedly punched her in the back of the head. Daniels, who said Nelson may have fractured her cheekbone, also told investigators Nelson had assaulted her and his girlfriend by choking and punching them.

The girlfriend added it was possible Nelson had a high-caliber pistol, but court document do not say a weapon was found on him when he was arrested.

After police arrived at the scene, they said they could hear Nelson moving furniture in an apparent attempt to barricade himself in an apartment building. During the incident, officers were informed Nelson had made suicidal comments to his landlord, stating "he would not come down for law enforcement," who attempted to reach him by phone.

A perimeter was set up around the area and SWAT members were called to the scene but were not needed after police determined Nelson was not a threat to the public.

Police made the decision at 10 a.m. Saturday to enter the apartment, and Nelson was taken into custody.

His next court appearance is Oct. 31.


Previous charges

Nelson also faces assault charges in a separate case stemming from an April 10 incident in which he is accused of arson. Court documents detail how he allegedly became angry during a disagreement with family members about a loan given to his juvenile son to purchase a dirt bike.

Witnesses told investigators he climbed into the back of a truck where the bike was stored, tipped over the bike, took off its gas cap and tried to light it on fire with a match. They also said he tried to start a tractor on fire.

Witnesses said Nelson took a can of ether and lit it with a match before spraying it toward his son, lighting the front of the boy's sweatshirt on fire, according to a criminal complaint.

Nelson also is accused of dragging his father, who uses a wheelchair, out of bed and down the hall.

A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 28 in that case, in which Nelson has been charged with two second-degree felony counts of attempted arson, a second-degree felony charge of assault and a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. He faces up to 17 years and three months in prison and a $25,000 fine if he is convicted and sentenced on all four charges.

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