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Willmar, Minn., man is second to enter plea in car window smashing case

WILLMAR — Daniel Robert Schmidt, 20, of St. Paul and formerly of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a first-degree property damage charge for his role in smashing numerous car windows with golf clubs in May.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, Schmidt entered a Norgaard plea to the charge. Under the plea, a defendant admits he was too impaired by alcohol to recall the incident for which he is charged but would likely be convicted of the crime by a jury. Schmidt will be sentenced Feb. 27.

He and Nicholas John Craik, 26, of Minneapolis and formerly of Willmar, were both charged in the case. Craik was sentenced in September to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine and five years of probation on a felony count of first-degree property damage. He was also ordered to pay $3,365 in restitution to the victims and their insurance companies.

According to the complaint, the two men used a 5-iron and a 9-iron to smash the windows and mirrors on nine vehicles during the early morning hours of May 15. The damaged vehicles were parked along Third Street Southeast, Third Street Southwest, Seventh Street Northwest and Gorton Avenue Northwest.

The first person to report hearing the men smashing car windows reported it to Willmar police around 4:40 a.m. May 15.

The victim reported he had seen a man run to get into the passenger seat of a white passenger car that took off northbound on Third Street Southeast. The man’s pickup window had been smashed, so he took another vehicle to search for the white car. He located the white car along the 300 block of Becker Avenue Southeast and notified police.

The responding officer noticed pieces of broken tempered glass throughout the passenger side of the car, a broken golf club and an envelope with Schmidt’s name on it. The car was impounded.

Officers also learned from individuals living at a nearby residence that Schmidt and Craik were known to associate with each other.

A tip from a citizen led a Willmar officer to interview Schmidt and Craik, who both said they went drinking at Zorbaz in Spicer and then Craik drove the vehicle as Schmidt smashed car windows with a golf club. Schmidt also admitted the broken 9-iron club found inside one of the vehicles was his golf club. The other club was found inside the impounded car, along with a set of clubs missing the two irons.

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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