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On eve of prison release for shooting ND judge, man faces new allegations

Reuben Larson

BISMARCK — A man who was set to be released Thursday from federal prison after serving 25 years for shooting a judge in a Grand Forks courtroom is being investigated to determine if he already has violated the terms of his parole, but he will be released under supervision for now.

Reuben Ray Larson, 68, was booked Thursday into the Burleigh County jail on hold for the U.S. Marshals Service. Prosecutor Rick Volk said Larson is being held for what he called refusing to comply with conditions of his supervised release. Volk did not go into the specifics of what those violations were.

Larson was set to be released early on parole, but he appeared Thursday and again on Friday in federal court in Bismarck. Following a hearing Friday afternoon, Larson was ordered released by Judge Charles Miller Jr. but will have to reside at the Ruth Meiers House, a homeless shelter and reintegration center in Bismarck, while it is determined whether he violated the terms of his release. If convicted, Larson could spend another two years in prison.

Until Thursday, Larson was incarcerated in the Missouri River Correctional Center in Bismarck after he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for attempted murder. He shot then-Grand Forks District Judge Lawrence Jahnke during a child support hearing on May 5, 1992. Jahnke survived the shot, but the bullet to his abdomen seriously wounded him.

In his attempted murder trial, Larson represented himself, and he insisted on doing the same in this case, according to court documents filed Friday.

The court strongly advised Larson to accept a court-appointed defense attorney, and Federal Judge Daniel Hovland appointed public defender Ryan Costello to serve as standby counsel to “ensure the defendant receives adequate representation in this matter.”

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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