Wetzel pleads guilty
Nearly two years after his arrest, Joel Wetzel, 61, was sentenced to eight years in prison during a hearing in Dickinson on Thursday evening. Wetzel's trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning, and his Thursday hearing, which was scheduled earl...
Nearly two years after his arrest, Joel Wetzel, 61, was sentenced to eight years in prison during a hearing in Dickinson on Thursday evening.
Wetzel's trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning, and his Thursday hearing, which was scheduled earlier in the day, didn't begin until after 6:30 p.m.
Wetzel was charged for breaking into a Dickinson home, shooting a door and injuring a resident in July 2008, according to a criminal complaint.
Wetzel is also accused of pointing a gun at officers who responded to the incident. Sgt. Dan Brown then shot Wetzel in the torso, according to authorities.
A presentence investigation was not ordered and Judge William Herauf sentenced Wetzel at Thursday's hearing.
As part of a plea agreement, Wetzel pleaded guilty to burglary, reckless endangerment and possessing a firearm when prohibited.
He entered an Alford plea for a second count of reckless endangerment, which alleged he pointed his gun at an officer. By entering an Alford plea, Wetzel admits the evidence against him may lead to a conviction, but it is not a guilty plea.
The fifth charge, terrorizing, was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Restitution will be decided at a later date and Wetzel will also have to pay court fees.
"Given the entire circumstances, this is a very fair deal," Kelly Armstrong, Wetzel's attorney, said after the hearing.
However, Wetzel dis-putes the allegation that he pointed a gun at officers and claims he was shot, unprovoked, in the back by three officers who responded to the incident.
Herauf ordered Wetzel would not be able to represent himself during court proceedings and Wetzel said he plans to appeal that decision.
After the hearing, Wetzel said he wanted to apologize to the residents of the home he broke into.
Wetzel has a Purple Heart and was awarded a Silver Star in 1968. He also spent time in prison for manslaughter in 1994.