Alabama fugitives sentenced in North Dakota
DICKINSON, N.D. -- Two Alabama fugitives who pleaded guilty to Stark County charges against them at a December hearing tried to withdraw their pleas at their sentencing hearing Monday. However, Judge Zane Anderson denied their motions.
A judge accepted plea agreements from three of the four fugitives charged in the matter and they were sentenced to lowered charges Monday.
Angela and Jacquelin Mink are accused of helping Joshua Southwick and Ashton Mink escape from an Alabama prison in May. The four were then reportedly involved in the robbery of a Dickinson movie store in June. After fleeing the scene, Southwick reportedly fired a gun at a pursuing officer.
After a lengthy standoff with police near Gladstone, Southwick and Angela Mink -- who are reportedly dating -- surrendered.
However, Ashton and Jacquelin Mink, who are reportedly married, ran out the back of the garage they were hiding in handcuffed together and fired at officers. Authorities believe they were trying to end their own lives by getting officers to fire at them.
Ashton Mink was reportedly shot by officers and Jacquelin Mink then shot herself.
Jacquelin Mink reportedly met siblings Angela and Ashton Mink at Bible school when they were young, said Tom Henning, Stark County state's attorney,
At the hearing, Angela Mink was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended for felony robbery. She will be on supervised probation for five years after her release.
After the hearing, Henning said Angela Mink and Joshua Southwick's motions to withdraw guilty pleas were filed Friday.
Angela Mink does not have the right to withdraw her plea, Anderson said at the hearing.
"Her request to withdraw the guilty plea had nothing to do with guilt or innocence," Anderson said.
The motion to withdraw said Angela Mink was confused about why a presentence investigation was ordered and whether she would be able to argue for a lesser sentence, Anderson said.
"I am not convinced there was confusion," Anderson said.
At a December hearing, Jacquelin Mink took a plea agreement. She will serve seven-and-a-half years in prison, in exchange for her promise to cooperate with authorities and give information about the incident.
Anderson believes Angela Mink wants to withdraw her guilty plea because Jacquelin Mink received a lesser sentence.
Angela Mink tearfully apologized for her involvement with matter. She has 120 days to file a motion for reduction or correction of a sentence, Anderson said.
"Angela wrote a letter to the judge indicating she was dissatisfied with her attorney," Henning said after the hearing.
Southwick also requested his guilty plea be withdrawn, but was also told he did not have the right to do so at the hearing.
"It was a package deal," said Ashley Holmes, Southwick's attorney. "He entered into it in order to get (Angela Mink) a lesser sentence."
Anderson denied his request and Southwick was sentenced to 20 years in prison for felony attempted murder.
Ashton Mink was also sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for felony reckless endangerment and robbery.
"He understood that 20 years was probably the best he was going to get, even if he took it to trial," Kevin McCabe, Ashton Mink's attorney said after the hearing. "He wanted to get this beyond him and to serve his time and be out of here."
Anderson and Henning said Angela Mink caught a break on her sentencing.
"I'll acknowledge that I had initially offered her 20 years with only five suspended," Henning said.
However, Southwick and Ashton Mink said they would accept their plea agreements and be sentenced to 20 years if Henning offered Angela Mink less time.
"If you talk to investigators, they'll tell you that indications are she was something of a ringleader here," Henning said.
Henning feels a sense of relief since all four involved in the matter have been sentenced. He thinks their sentences are fair.
He hopes the fact the fugitives are being held responsible for their actions gives the public a sense of security.
"Because of the fact that most of this involved the use of firearms, it was particularly alarming," Henning said.
All four fugitives still face charges for the alleged prison escape in Alabama, Henning said.
Josh Rustad, Angela Mink's attorney, and Holmes were unavailable for comment after the hearing.