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Court news: Rochert man sentenced for domestic assault; improper search leads to dismissal for Perham woman

According to court records, the woman fled the home, but fell outside, and he pushed a motorcycle onto her legs. The man then jumped on top of the woman, grabbed her by the throat and began choking her. Also, a felony fifth-degree drug charge has been dismissed against a Perham woman after a judge ruled that the vehicle search that led to the charge lacked probable cause.

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DETROIT LAKES — Anthony Britton Nelson, 45, of rural Rochert, has been sentenced in Becker County District Court for gross misdemeanor domestic assault.

A felony domestic assault by strangulation charge was dropped in a plea agreement.

According to court records, on June 1, he began hitting a woman while at a residence located on Evergreen Shores Drive, Detroit Lakes. The woman fled the home, but fell outside, and he pushed a motorcycle onto her legs. Nelson then jumped on top of the woman, grabbed her by the throat and began choking her.

The woman said that she could not breathe and that Nelson threatened to kill her. The two share a 4-year-old daughter, who was there and yelled “don’t hit my mom,” and “don’t, dad,” according to court records. The woman was transported to the emergency room.

On June 30, Becker County District Judge Gretchen Thilmony sentenced him to 365 days in jail, with 363 days of that time stayed for two years. Credit was granted for two days served. He has completed an anger management program and must get a chemical dependency evaluation and follow the recommendations.

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Drug charge dismissed for improper car search

A felony fifth-degree drug charge has been dismissed in Becker County District Court against a Perham woman – after a judge ruled that the vehicle search that led to the charge lacked probable cause.

According to court records, Lauren Ashley Desouza, 54, of Perham was a passenger in a car pulled over in Detroit Lakes on July 5, 2021, by a Detroit Lakes police officer responding to a report of a possible drug deal in the Burger King parking lot.

The driver, described by the witness as being a blonde woman driving a dark red or maroon Chevy Impala, was pulled over about two miles east of Burger King on Highway 10.

The driver gave permission to search the car, and the officer found an orange butane torch and red straw with drug residue inside Desouza’s backpack. A baggie containing 1.7 grams of methamphetamine was found shoved near the front passenger seat cushion.

The apparent drug deal was reported by a concerned citizen, who didn’t see or hear anything specific, but thought it suspicious that the driver had gotten into a parked Suburban for about two minutes, then left the parking lot.

A contested omnibus hearing was held on May 11 before District Judge Gretchen Thilmony. After hearing the officer’s testimony and reviewing squad car video and 911 tapes, Thilmony ruled on July 7 that the officer had lacked probable cause for the traffic stop.

In a memorandum, Thilmony noted that the officer had testified that “while Impalas and people with blonde hair are common, it was late at night, and it was the only vehicle on the road fitting the description given by (the concerned citizen).”

The judge added that “the squad video, in fact, shows that the Impala was blue (not red), and that the officer was following the Impala in the dark and from a distance that it was not possible to make out the physical characteristics of the driver before he activated his emergency lights.”

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The officer testified that “the only basis for the stop” was the information provided by the concerned citizen, his suspicion of a drug deal, and his description of the driver and the make and model of the vehicle.

While the court believes that the officer acted in good faith, Thilmony added, “the end result is still that the stop was not justified under the law. Because the stop was not justified, any evidence obtained from the resulting and subsequent search of the vehicle must be suppressed. Consequently, there is no probable cause sufficient to maintain charges against the defendant.”

Desouza’s motion to suppress the evidence was granted, and the charge was dismissed.

Related Topics: BECKER COUNTY DISTRICT COURTPUBLIC SAFETYCRIME AND COURTS
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