Michael Dennis II charged with accomplice to murder in death of Dominick Stephens
Bond was set at $1 million for Michael Lamart Dennis II, 24, who made an initial appearance at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday in district court in Minot on charges of Class AA felony accomplice to murder, Class A felony attempted murder, Class C felony reckless endangerment, and Class C felony terrorizing.
Dennis, who is charged in the Jan. 12 shooting death in Minot of 29-year-old Dominick Stephens and the attempted murder of a second man, turned himself in at the Ward County Jail on Wednesday morning, according to a police news release.
About half a dozen officers lined the way when Dennis was led from the jail into the courtroom and officers warned bystanders to move well out of the way.
Dennis appeared calm in court when Judge Gary Lee read him his rights and the charges against him, which include a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Dennis told the judge he plans to apply for a court-appointed attorney.
Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson told the judge she asked for the $1 million cash bond due to the seriousness of the charges, Dennis’s minimal ties to the community and the strength of the state’s case against Dennis. Larson told the judge that Dennis has a felony record out of Florida.
Judge Lee set a preliminary hearing date in the case for March 5 at 1 p.m. One hour has been set aside for the hearing.
He also has other, unrelated, cases in district court in Minot.
In September, he was given a suspended 18 month sentence and three years of supervised probation for strangling his girlfriend when she was six months pregnant in March 2019.
Dennis had been one of two men wanted in connection with the murder of Stephens and the attempted murder of the second man. Donald Lee Cooper Jr., 27, has also been charged in connection with the murder. A third co-defendant, Marcus Jermaine Lee, 22, pleaded guilty earlier this month to Class A felony accomplice to murder. Under the terms of a recommended plea deal, Lee will be sentenced to 20 years in prison, with a requirement that he serve 15 years, and three years of supervised probation. According to a redacted probable cause affidavit filed with the court, co-defendants Cooper and Dennis allegedly threatened and intimidated Lee into helping them commit the crime and he was under “extreme emotional disturbance” at the time. Lee is to be sentenced at a later date.
Police had been unable to locate Dennis and Cooper after the shooting and had put out wanted posters seeking information on their whereabouts. Cooper is not in custody.
According to a police news release immediately after the shooting, police were investigating gunshots at 6:07 a.m. Jan. 12 in the area of 13th Street and 11th Avenue NW in Minot. A few minutes later, Minot Central Dispatch received a report of a vehicle involved in a crash near the Minot State University Dome. It was determined the driver of the vehicle, Stephens, had been shot. Stephens was taken to Trinity Hospital and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Judge Doug Mattson has issued a gag order in the case and sealed court records. No other information about the case is currently available.