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Thief River Falls man pleads guilty in birthday shooting case

THIEF RIVER FALLS--A Thief River Falls man has pleaded guilty to shooting another man during a birthday party in rural Pennington County, Minn. Three days after his trial started, Trevor Lee Brown, 24, ended more than a year of court filings and ...

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Trevor Lee Brown

THIEF RIVER FALLS-A Thief River Falls man has pleaded guilty to shooting another man during a birthday party in rural Pennington County, Minn.

Three days after his trial started, Trevor Lee Brown, 24, ended more than a year of court filings and delays by pleading guilty Friday in Pennington County District Court to first-degree assault, a felony. His attorney, Blair Nelson, filed a Norgaard plea for Brown, meaning the defendant is unable to recall the facts of the case.

Brown was arrested last year after the Pennington County Sheriff's Department responded at 2:37 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2015, to the 13200 block of 190th Avenue Southeast, about 5 miles southeast of Thief River Falls, where they found a wounded Ryan Houle of Thief River Falls lying on a barn floor.

Witnesses told police a fight broke out during a birthday party there, according to court documents. After firing a shot into the ceiling, Brown was tackled by Houle, witnesses said. The struggle ended with more gunshots, and Houle suffering two gunshot wounds to his chest.

Witnesses said they heard the gun go off two or three times, adding Brown was holding the gun when it all ended.

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Brown left the residence but was arrested the same day in Goodridge, Minn., about 20 miles east of Thief River Falls. He told investigators he brought a handgun to the party and shot Houle, according to court documents.

Jury selection for Brown's case began Wednesday. The trial was scheduled to last through next week, but Brown decided to enter a plea for the first time in the case.
It's uncertain why Brown changed his mind, Pennington County Attorney Alan Rogalla said. Nelson didn't immediately return a message to the Herald asking for comment on this story.

Prosecutors plan to ask for the recommended sentence under Minnesota law, meaning Brown could face up to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Brown also faces second-degree attempted murder and reckless discharge of a firearm, both felonies. He hasn't pleaded guilty to those charges, but if the sentencing satisfies both the defense and prosecution, those two charges could be dismissed, Rogalla said.

A sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 12.

Related Topics: THIEF RIVER FALLSCRIME
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