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Quale pleads to attempted first-degree murder

MONTEVIDEO -- Curtis David Quale, 69, of Granite Falls, pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted murder, domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse. He entered his plea Wednesday in district court in Montevideo.

He admitted to stabbing his 47-year-old girlfriend in a drunken fit of rage in their home in Granite Falls on July 16, and leaving her to bleed on the hallway floor overnight before calling for help.

Charges of attempted murder in the second degree, with intent but not premeditated, and charges of first- and second-degree assault were dismissed under terms of a plea agreement.

The agreement calls for Quale to serve 161½ months in prison.

District Judge Paul Nelson accepted the guilty plea, but delayed sentencing to provide an opportunity for the victim or members of her family to be present if they wish.

The victim, Michelle Young, now 48, remains hospitalized after undergoing a recent surgery. Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson told the court that with the exception of a brief period, she has been hospitalized since the stabbing.

Quale admitted in court that he had two prior convictions for offenses related to domestic abuse against the victim in the year preceding the stabbing. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and fifth degree assault for separate incidents in July 2008 and May 2009 in which he had struck the victim.

The criminal complaint against Quale for the stabbing alleges that he called 911 at 8 a.m. on July 17 to request an ambulance. It stated that he told a sheriff's department dispatcher that he had "stabbed Michelle."

The first two law officers on the scene found Young conscious, bleeding and lying on a hallway floor.

Quale admitted that he stabbed Young multiple times with an eight-inch blade sometime during the preceding evening. He told the court that he did not know what time the stabbing occurred, but that it had followed an argument. He said he could not recall its cause.

"I was in such a stupor, passed out, blacked out later, I didn't even know...'' said Quale of his intoxicated state. He testified that he remembers saying something to Young after she came home. "She said you worthless SOB you don't do nothing for me,'' he testified.

Quale said that made him angry, and he went into the bathroom and stabbed her. He did not know how many times.

As she lay on the floor, he poured nitroglycerin pills for his heart condition and a mix of other, unidentified pills into a glass of cold water. "I fully intended to do away with myself,'' said Quale. "I wanted to be with her but couldn't,'' he said, sobbing.

The pills did not dissolve. He attempted to chew them but instead heaved them up. He went to bed. He woke up in the morning, saw her lying on the floor and called for an ambulance, according to his testimony.

He told the first arriving officers that he stabbed Young and that he thought he had "tried to kill her,'' according to the complaint. Officers recovered the blood-coated knife behind a microwave in the home where Quale told them it would be.

The victim was stabilized at the Granite Falls Hospital and airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center.

The presumptive sentence for Quale calls for a prison sentence range of 161½ months to 228 months.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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