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Staples man sentenced for attacking jailer, waving around crow bar while holding infant

Matthew Gene Tuttle

WADENA -- A Staples man was given concurrent prison sentences of 54, 33 and 27 months and 365 days local jail time for confrontations with two people while he held an infant and a crow bar, and a violent attack on a Wadena County jailer.

The case also included a test of Miranda law after Matthew Gene Tuttle, 22, made statements about a dead body in Staples.

According to court documents, on June 18, 2007, a woman called Wadena County dispatch and said she came home and found Tuttle sitting in a lawn chair and holding a then-4-month-old infant in one hand and a crow bar in the other hand.

The woman told Tuttle he wasn't allowed on the property, and he then chased her with the crow bar. Another man at the residence confronted Tuttle, who swung the crow bar at him while holding the baby. Tuttle also threw rocks at the man and threatened to kill the baby's mother.

A sheriff's deputy stopped Tuttle on the street a short while later while he was still carrying the newborn, court documents said. Tuttle told the officer he wanted to see the child one more time before going to prison.

The deputy cuffed Tuttle and put him in the back of the squad car to bring him to the jail.

During the ride, Tuttle made statements to the deputy about a dead body that had been found in Staples, court records said. After being Mirandized, he was asked if he wanted to make a statement about the body, and he said he didn't.

The court later ruled the statements made on the scene about the assault were admissible in the case, saying "on-the-scene" questioning, where officers are simply trying to get a preliminary explanation of a confusing situation, does not require a Miranda warning.

But the court ruled the statements about the body were inadmissible, since he was in custody in the deputy's car at the time and hadn't yet been given his warning.

Tuttle's connection to the body is unclear. Staples Police Chief Kyle Huber said he can't talk about all of the details of the investigation because the case is still open.

"We had a person die in their home and it appeared that the body was moved after death," Huber explained.

But the medical examiner ruled the death was from natural causes, so police aren't looking at it as a homicide. However, Tuttle lived in the home and has been questioned by police about the moving of the corpse, Huber said.

Tuttle was also sentenced for a violent attack on a Wadena County jailer.

On the morning of July 2, 2007, deputies assisted with a report of an uncooperative inmate in the holding tank of the Wadena County Jail. There they found Tuttle, who was walking around in circles and screaming obscenities. When two deputies went to check on him, Tuttle ran at a female jailer with his arm cocked and said, "I'm going to kill you, [expletive]," court records said.

Tuttle allegedly jumped on the jailer and stabbed her several times with a ball point pen. The other officers Tased him and got him back in the holding tank. The jailer sustained a cut on her nose. Statements were taken from other inmates who said Tuttle had planned to stab her in the eye with the pen, court document said.

Tuttle was originally charged with two counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, terroristic threats, endangering a child and domestic assault from the incident with the crow bar and the infant. The domestic assault and terroristic threats charges were dropped during sentencing on Jan. 12.

For the assault on the jailer, Tuttle was sentenced Jan. 12 to 54 months prison time, concurrent with the other sentences. Charges of fourth-degree assault on correctional employees and terroristic threats were dismissed at sentencing in that case.