Medora man resentenced to 20 years, 10 suspended for attempted murder
Lorenzo Pemberton, 28, was resentenced for attempted murder after agreeing to a plea deal at the Stark County Courthouse Tuesday. The initial charge was vacated by the state's highest court, due to an error in the jury instructions.
DICKINSON — A Medora man was resentenced, after the state Supreme Court threw out the initial charge due to a 2018 prosecutorial filing error, for attempted murder in the Southwest District Court on Tuesday morning at the Stark County Courthouse.
To avoid a second trial Stark County State’s Attorney Amanda Engelstad entered into a plea agreement with the defendant, Lorenzo T. Pemberton, 28, that would increase the amount of time suspended on his 20 year sentence from five to 10 years.
The charge originated from an incident to which the Dickinson Police Department was called at approximately 2 a.m. on February 23, 2018. Upon arrival, noise from inside the home prompted officers to make an exigent entry. They found “domestic violence in progress.”
According to a police report at the time, Pemberton was the victim’s estranged boyfriend. When an argument escalated she called 911 and he knocked the phone out of her hand. He proceeded to stab her with a screwdriver several times in the head area, causing multiple lacerations.
He was initially charged with aggravated assault - domestic violence, interference with telephone during emergency call and felonious restraint. Further investigation brought additional charges of class A felony attempted murder and child neglect, a class C felony. At trial a jury found him guilty on all counts. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with five years suspended for attempted murder, along with a concurrent sentence of five years for the other charges.
Pemberton unsuccessfully appealed the ruling. He subsequently filed a post conviction relief action, claiming there were problems with the wording of the original document for the attempted murder charge that rendered it ‘non-cognizable’ and not a criminal offense under North Dakota law.
“The jury instructions said that he either knowingly or intentionally attempted to cause the murder of another human being. That ‘knowingly’ portion of the jury instruction in the criminal information essentially made that a non-cognizable offense. It wasn’t articulated by the jury whether they convicted him on knowingly attempted murder or intentionally attempted murder,” Engelstad said. “So the (North Dakota) Supreme Court agreed with his argument and they vacated the attempted murder charge.”
Pemberton was not released at that point, as the sentence for the other convictions in this case remained in effect.
“Instead of going through a whole new trial on attempted murder, the state, essentially with the consent of the victim, entered into a plea agreement with Mr. Pemberton and his attorney. He did plead guilty on the attempted murder charge. He was resentenced today on that,” she said.
This time he was sentenced to 20 years at the North Dakota Department of Corrections with 10 years suspended, followed by five years of supervised probation upon release from incarceration. Engelstad noted this is an “85% crime” under North Dakota law, meaning that Pemberton must serve no less than 85% of 10 years. That means he could be eligible for parole by around August of 2028.
“It was just a final resolution to a case that’s been kind of dragged on for a while, and I’m happy for the victim that I think at this point, now she can finally, hopefully move on and put this behind her,” Engelstad said.