Partlow guilty of terrorizing in 2010 incidentMichael Partlow was found guilty of terrorizing in Southeast District Court Friday evening. Partlow was accused of pointing a shotgun at police officers called to his apartment building because of his suicide threats in an incident occurring at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2010. The officers fired on him, causing several wounds.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Michael Partlow was found guilty of terrorizing in Southeast District Court Friday evening.
Partlow was accused of pointing a shotgun at police officers called to his apartment building because of his suicide threats in an incident occurring at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2010. The officers fired on him, causing several wounds.
The jury deliberated for about four hours before returning the verdict. In the finding of facts, a second part of the verdict, the jury found that Partlow did not inflict or attempt to inflict bodily injury during the course of the commission of the terrorizing act.
Terrorizing is defined as threatening to commit a crime of violence or act dangerous to life and can include acts with a reckless disregard of risk.
“This was a very difficult case for everybody,” said Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney and prosecutor of the case. “We could have had somebody die in this situation. It was fortunate nobody did die but people have to be responsible for their behavior even if they are distraught.”
Defense counsel was disappointed in the verdict.
“Slightly disappointed,” said Tatum Lindbo, defense attorney. “But the finding of facts is a big deal. That took the minimum mandatory off the table.”
If a “yes” verdict had been returned on the finding of facts, Partlow would have faced a minimum sentence of two years in prison. He still faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and fines of $5,000.
Partlow’s family was mostly quiet about the verdict. The defendant’s father, Mike Partlow, declined to comment. Another family member, Brenda Partlow, said there should be more training for police officers.
Testimony began Wednesday for the case, which Judge Thomas Merrick officiated over. Michael Partlow took the stand to testify in his own defense Friday.
“I heard ‘drop the gun,’” Partlow said, describing the moment he was shot. “It surprised me. I think I dropped the phone. I think I remember falling.”
Partlow also described his wounds, which included a bullet wound that entered near his left temple and exited near his right eye. Other wounds included two wounds from bullets that struck the left side of his hip and wounds to both hands. All the entrance wounds were on the left side of the body. Testimony indicated that the officers were on his right side as he exited the apartment building.
Fremgen maintained the wounds came when Partlow turned to fire on the officers while Lindbo argued the wounds came as he turned to lay down the weapon.
Partlow followed his grandmother, Mary Wildermuth, on the stand. She testified she was on the phone with him when the shooting occurred.
“I said ‘This is your grandmother,’” said Wildermuth. “He said ‘Hello’ and then I heard all the noise.”
The prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments before the case went to the jury.
“He was a puppet master pulling the strings,” Fremgen said of Partlow in his closing arguments.
Fremgen said that Partlow controlled the situation by holding himself hostage. He also pointed out that the shotgun was loaded with three rounds of ammunition.
“When he came out of the apartment he had three rounds because Trooper (Craig) Beedy said he ejected three rounds (from the gun),” Fremgen said. “A big part of the case is what he did with the muzzle of the gun when he came out of the door.”
During the trial, police officers testified he had pointed the gun at them. Testimony from state investigators also indicated the gun had been pointed at the police officers when they fired.
Lindbo reviewed in her closing argument the quickness in which events unfolded.
“It was 1 minute 14 seconds from the officers arriving on the scene until the end of the shooting,” Lindbo said before she played an audio recording made by the camera mounted in the highway patrol car.
She also said the incident involved inexperienced police officers.
“Three young Jamestown Police Department officers all fired their weapons,” Lindbo said. “The 21-year veteran of the highway patrol did not fire a round.”
A pre-sentence investigation was requested and is expected to take six to eight weeks. Partlow remains free on bond pending sentencing.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org