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Court affirms 68-month sentence in Spicer assault

ST. PAUL — After the bars closed, Michael Jon Underland of Bird Island and another man argued off and on at a residence in Spicer, the last exchange ending with Underland thrusting a knife in the man’s abdomen.

Underland rejected a plea agreement, and a Kandiyohi County jury convicted him of second-degree assault for the Feb. 5, 2012, incident. District Judge Donald Spilseth sentenced Underland to 68 months in prison. It was the maximum presumptive sentence based on state guidelines and the defendant’s prior criminal history. The judge cited Underland’s refusal to accept responsibility for the assault.

A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence in an unpublished ruling released Monday.

“Underland’s sentence is not unfair, and the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing the maximum presumptive guidelines sentence,’’ stated Presiding Judge Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks in the decision.

Underland, 30, is currently serving his sentence in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater.

His expected release date is March 21, 2016.

In appealing the sentence, Underland had acknowledged that it was within the presumptive guidelines range. He asked for a sentence based on the lower end of the range by arguing that his offense was not more serious than other second-degree assaults; the state had offered him a plea bargain; and the guidelines range applies to offenders with his criminal history score of six.

“Because he offers no support for any of these arguments, they provide no basis for modification of his sentence,’’ stated the Court in the decision.

Judges Halbrooks, Natalie Hudson and John Smith comprised the panel considering the appeal. 

Tom Cherveny

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

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