GRANITE FALLS — The second co-defendant charged in the stabbing and beating of a 45-year-old Granite Falls man entered a plea in the case.
Loren Wayne LaBatte, 47, of Sacred Heart, entered an Alford plea to a felony charge of aiding and abetting second-degree assault with a weapon, causing substantial bodily harm, during a pre-trial hearing in district court on Thursday. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state’s evidence is sufficient for a conviction.
He entered the plea to two of four counts filed against him. He was also charged with a count of assault with a dangerous weapon, causing substantial bodily harm, and counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and aiding and abetting second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
By entering an Alford plea, LaBatte did not provide testimony on his role in the assault on April 5 at a rural Granite Falls location.
The other defendant in the case, Gordon Gene LaBatte, 50, of Renville, entered a straight guilty plea to a second-degree assault charge with a dangerous weapon causing substantial bodily harm in district court on April 21. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison.
In testimony he provided, Gordon LaBatte took responsibility for the attack and told the court that his brother, Loren, was not involved. The victim told law officers that both men had assaulted him, according to the criminal complaint.
Loren LaBatte has been held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail since his arrest on April 5, the day of the assault. As part of an agreement, he was released from custody on Thursday pending sentencing, according to Mark Gruenes, Yellow Medicine County assistant attorney.
The prosecution agreed to a sentencing departure in which LaBatte will not be required to serve further time. He otherwise would have likely been sentenced to one year plus one day for the offense.
The criminal complaints against the defendants allege they stabbed the man and struck him with a hammer and repeatedly kicked and punched him while in a shed located at the rural Granite Falls residence. The victim is reportedly in a relationship with the former wife of Loren LaBatte, and the two defendants were upset about it, according to the allegations outlined in the criminal complaints.
The victim was airlifted to the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after initial care at the Avera Granite Falls Hospital.