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Dave Roepke, Published September 18 2010

Man gets 8 years for Mapleton stabbing

Nicholas Dodge Bruesch, upset at a drinking buddy for taking a few beers, put a knife in the man’s stomach and pierced his liver.

Now Bruesch is heading off to serve eight years in prison.

Bruesch pleaded guilty on Friday in Cass County District Court to the beer-prompted stabbing and an unrelated aggravated assault charge for a May 8 incident where he stabbed a fellow inmate at the Cass County Jail with a sharpened pencil.

The Mapleton, N.D., man, who was 22 years old at the time of the Jan. 13 stabbing in Mapleton, was sentenced to eight years in prison on the knifing and five years of supervised probation for the pencil attack.

“I feel terrible for the things I’ve done,” Bruesch told Judge Steven McCullough during the hearing.

Bruesch initially faced an attempted murder charge for the stabbing of Donte Smith at Bruesch’s father’s home in Mapleton, but the state agreed to lower it to aggravated assault in exchange for his plea.

It was nearly a murder case. Leah Viste, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney, said Smith “came close to not making it” after the bloody stabbing.

It won’t be Bruesch’s first time behind bars. He was sentenced to two years in 2008 on a host of charges, including terrorizing and aggravated assault.

For violating his probation in the earlier cases, he was sentenced to the 245 days he’s spent in jail since his arrest on the stabbing.

The victim in the May 8 pencil stabbing was Roger Hellerud, a 25-year-old who pleaded guilty to beating up a 15-year-old boy in a playground near Madison Elementary in April.

Bruesch was attempting to break up a fight between two inmates but stabbed Hellerud in the head with a pencil, Viste said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535