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Man gets 10 years for sword stabbing

A Duluth man was sentenced Wednesday to serve more than 10 years in prison for stabbing his former roommate with a sword earlier this year.

A jury found 43-year-old Kyle Dean McClain guilty of first-degree assault with great bodily harm and second-degree assault after a three-day trial in October. McClain admitted that he stabbed Richard Stewart with the weapon, but he claimed it was accidental.

Judge Mark Munger told McClain that there was no excuse for his actions in trying to deal with Stewart, who was intoxicated and attempting to seek shelter at McClain’s residence during a February blizzard.

“You chose a path that no rational human being I know would choose, and that’s to go and get a sword,” Munger said. “What happened is you lost your temper, stabbed him and almost killed him.”

Munger sentenced McClain to 122 months in prison. He must serve at least two-thirds of that sentence — nearly seven years — before he’s eligible for supervised release. The sentence was recommended by prosecutors and probation officers.

According to testimony during the trial, an intoxicated Stewart arrived at McClain’s home 1027 E. Third St. seeking shelter during a Feb. 18 blizzard. Stewart previously lived at the house but was told he was no longer welcome there because he would become violent when drinking.

McClain testified that he repeatedly attempted to get Stewart to go away but that the man continued to pound on the door and yell.

McClain grabbed his sword, which he knew Stewart feared, and confronted him at the door.

What happened next is disputed.

Prosecutors alleged that McClain became so angry with Stewart that he stabbed Stewart’s chest with the sword, piercing his winter jacket and 5 inches of skin and flesh.

McClain claimed that Stewart lunged at him, causing him to back up and throw his arms up in self-defense, with the sword accidentally striking Stewart.

It took a jury of 10 women and two men about four hours to find McClain guilty of both charges.

At Wednesday’s sentencing, public defender Cynthia Evenson sought a lower-than-guideline sentence, a motion that Munger denied. Evenson argued that it would be more appropriate for McClain to serve probation rather than be sent to prison.

Evenson claimed that Stewart was the true aggressor in the incident and listed more than a dozen of Stewart’s criminal convictions for assault and disorderly conduct.

“The facts of this case are less than what you’d expect in a first-degree assault,” she said.

Evenson also argued that McClain would be well-suited for probation. He voluntarily entered the Minnesota Teen Challenge program while in custody in an effort to control his alcohol abuse. He also would be able to continue his previous job at TeleResources if released from jail, and he has several friends and family members for support, Evenson said.

McClain also read a prepared statement to the judge.

“For the last 10 months, I’ve been reliving the night of Feb. 18 over and over again,” he said. “Each time, I come to regret my actions. I regret that Mr. Stewart came to our door. I regret answering the door. I regret choosing the weapon. I regret the injury that I caused.”

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Nate Stumme, who prosecuted the case, disputed the defense’s assessment of the case. He called the first-degree assault “as severe as they come.”

He called into question McClain’s versions of the events, noting that McClain had ample opportunity to call 911 and that he initially lied to police about the stabbing.

“It was a blizzard when Mr. Stewart arrived at the residence where he used to live,” Stumme said. “He’s not only told there’s no room at the inn, but he’s almost killed.”

Stumme, arguing against probation, also said McClain has at least four probation violations from previous convictions.

Munger agreed that McClain should face more severe consequences.

“The story painted by Ms. Evenson differs greatly with the determinations that the jury made in its findings of guilt,” the judge said. “This is a situation where, in good conscience, I cannot give you probation.”

Stewart was not present at the hearing and did not submit a victim impact statement. Attorneys said they believe he recently moved away from the area.

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