District Court, Kandiyohi County, Nov. 20
- A Willmar man avoided prison time but will spend five years on probation after pleading guilty earlier this month to domestic assault and a firearms violation.
Benjamin Allen Pierskalla, 24, could have faced up to 15 years in prison for possessing guns in spite of a prior assault conviction that prohibited him from having firearms. Instead, in a downward departure from sentencing guidelines, Judge Donald Spilseth agreed Wednesday to stay a five-year prison sentence, fined Pierskalla $50 and ordered him to remain on probation for five years.
On the domestic assault charge, a misdemeanor, Pierskalla was placed on probation for one year and ordered to serve five days of a 90-day jail sentence. He also was fined $1,000, of which $950 will be stayed for one year.
A woman called Willmar Police on Jan. 25 to report that Pierskalla had beaten her up during an argument. She sustained bruises and scratches. Several clumps of hair also were torn out of her head.
Police found three rifles and a pellet gun -- none with a lock or safety mechanism -- in the apartment, which was shared by two children, ages 3 and 1.
The original charges filed against Pierskalla included child endangerment, domestic assault and four counts of a firearms violation. In exchange for his guilty plea to the assault charge and one of the firearms charges, the other counts were dismissed.
- Corey Michael Heald, 24, of Atwater was sentenced Wednesday to 240 days in jail and placed on probation for seven years after pleading guilty to first-degree driving while impaired. Additional charges of first-degree DWI and driving after cancellation were dismissed.
Judge Donald Spilseth stayed a 36-month prison sentence. He also ordered Heald to pay a $1,500 fine and participate in electronic home monitoring for 30 days each year while he is on probation.
A passerby reported finding Heald's truck parked on County Road 8, south of Kandiyohi, early on the morning of Aug. 9, with the engine idling and the driver apparently asleep inside. A Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputy administered a field sobriety test, which Heald flunked. A check of his driver's license also revealed that it had been cancelled.
Heald had three previous convictions for DWI in 2003, 2005 and 2006. While on pre-trial release this fall, he also missed an alcohol test and failed to show up for random drug testing, according to court records.
- Kevin Ray Wertz, 20, of Willmar will serve extra jail time on a drug charge after failing to comply with the terms of his probation.
Judge Donald Spilseth this week ordered Wertz to spend 55 days in jail and remain on probation for five years.
Wertz was originally sentenced in 2007 on a fifth-degree controlled substance crime. During a stop by Willmar Police on June 17, he handed over a digital scale and a bag that was later found to contain 3.7 ounces of marijuana. He also was driving with a revoked license.
As one of the conditions of his probation, he was supposed to undergo chemical dependency treatment. But his probation officer discovered that Wertz was kicked out of his halfway house after going on an authorized outing to a shopping center and getting arrested for shoplifting. He later failed to return to the halfway house and failed to stay in contact with his probation officer.
He violated probation a second time this fall by not showing up to start serving his jail time. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was taken into custody last week.