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Adams enters innocent plea

Detroit Lakes Superintendent Mark Adams pleaded innocent to felony assault charges Monday at an omnibus hearing in Becker County District Court.

He was represented by criminal defense attorney Peter B. Wold of Minneapolis, who asked for a transcript of the grand jury proceedings that resulted in the charges against Adams.

He also asked for a transcript of the county attorney's explanation of possible charges to the grand jury, prior to its determination of charges.

Adams was indicted by the Becker County grand jury Nov. 1 on felony counts of first degree assault and third degree assault against Mark Rothschadl.

The incident occurred Sept. 9 on Rothschadl's farm in rural Ogema.

Rothschadl was not indicted by the grand jury.

District Judge Mark Hansen appeared amenable to granting the request for transcripts of grand jury testimony, but said he would have to check on the legality of releasing the county attorney's instructions.

County Attorney Joe Evans said he did not object to a transcript of the grand jury proceedings being released.

As far as releasing his explanation to the grand jury regarding possible charges that it could level, Evans said he does not believe there is any provision in the rules that provide for that. But he deferred to Hansen on releasing that information.

To protect the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings, Evans asked that the transcript of those who testified before the grand jury be given only to Adams and his attorney, not to any third parties. Hansen granted that request.

At the omnibus hearing, Wold pressed for a speedy trial.

"We'd be happy to enter a not guilt plea today," he told the judge. "We'd also like to get this on track for trial." Wold said his schedule would allow for trial to start Feb. 26 or anytime in March.

The actual date was not set, and will depend on the schedule of the judge assigned to the case.

Hansen set the matter for a pretrial hearing, and did not change the conditions of release for Adams, who was released last month without bond.

In a brief interview after the hearing, Wold said the truth will come out at trial.

"It's about time we try this case in the courtroom instead of on the streets," he said. "You'll see the real evidence there -- and that's a good thing for Mark Adams."

Evans said simply that "I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on this pending case."

The first degree assault charge involves an assault that inflicts "great bodily harm," according to state statute. Maximum punishment is 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Third degree assault involves "substantial bodily harm," and is punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The grand jury decided to indict Adams after hearing from nine people -- including Adams and Rothschadl -- over two days of secret proceedings at the Becker County Courthouse.

Adams is currently on paid leave from his superintendent's position.