Judge refuses to accept plea deal for Matthew Herschlip, charged with beating girlfriend
Matthew Adam Herschlip, 27, Bottineau, had been scheduled to change his plea on Monday to a charge that he choked his then girlfriend, punched her multiple times in the face with his fists, and knocked her unconscious during a domestic altercation in Minot on Sept. 28.
However, North Central District Court Judge Gary Lee, already annoyed because Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson showed up to the scheduled hearing 18 minutes late, declined to accept the plea deal.
Defense attorney Kyle Craig told the judge that he is aware that Larson’s office has had trouble with staffing. He was not certain why a prosecutor was not at the scheduled hearing right at 8:30 a.m. When Larson arrived, Craig told the judge that he and Larson’s office had agreed to a plea deal that would call for Herschlip to plead to a lesser charge of Class A misdemeanor assault instead of to the Class C felony aggravated assault charge with which he is charged. Lee noted on Monday that the change of plea proposal was coming to him on the eve of a jury trial that is scheduled to begin today. Therefore, because it was outside the time limit that a binding change of plea deal can be proposed, it was up to the judge whether to accept or reject the agreement. Lee said Herschlip had been charged with the C felony. Craig said his client could not plead to a C felony. Lee then told him to put the proposed plea proposal before trial judge Richard Hagar.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed with the court, the alleged victim took her young child and ran to a neighboring trailer for help after she regained consciousness. Police responded and noted that the woman had a bruised, swollen face, with injuries to her left jaw, cheek, eyes and mouth. She and her child were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Police later located Herschlip, who appeared to be intoxicated. He told the police his swollen knuckles were from playing his guitar.