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Assault charges against New London man dismissed in incident with neighbor

WILLMAR -- Felony assault and terroristic threats charges against a 20-year-old New London man were dismissed Friday for lack of probable case.

Jesse Jerald Keehn had also faced a misdemeanor charge of assault, which was also dismissed, for a May 14 incident that involved an argument with a neighbor and the firing of a shotgun.

In the Kandiyohi County District Court order dismissing the charges, Judge Michael J. Thompson noted that "the court concludes, under the specific facts of this case, that it is not a crime for a 20-year-old to fire a shot in the air, when words fail and upon being physically intimidated on his own property, to persuade an older, larger, angry neighborhood trespasser to leave."

The facts of the case, noted in the order and received in testimony during an omnibus hearing on July 14, included that the neighbor's horse had strayed from its pasture and that the man was attempting to corral the wayward horse. Meanwhile Keehn, and two others, drove their dirt bikes past on a nearby road southwest of New London. The neighbor, angered that the dirt bikes were deterring his efforts with the horse, went onto Keehn's property where he talked with the younger man. The incident was witnessed by several people, including the two other dirt bike riders and a neighbor, who testified at the hearing.

The order notes that Keehn offered to help the man corral the horse, but he declined. Keehn also asked the man repeatedly to leave the property, but he did not leave. When Keehn said he was going to get his 12-gauge shotgun, the man told him to get the gun and only left after a shot was fired into the air.

The original complaint noted that the man told deputies that Keehn had threatened to shoot him and that the man begged Keehn not to shoot. Keehn had told deputies he fired the gun, but never intended to shoot the man.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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