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Emily Welker, Published June 11 2013

Attorney says Beck's conduct 'entirely defensible' in bar fight

FARGO – The attorney for Travis Beck, a star linebacker for North Dakota State University’s football team, said Beck’s conduct “was entirely defensible” in an incident outside a downtown bar here Sunday morning that led to charges of felony aggravated assault.

Beck, 21, is accused of hitting a man in the head multiple times in what began as a verbal fight in Sports Bar, allegedly leaving the man unconscious.

Defense attorney Bruce Quick said Tuesday that Beck is cooperating fully with the police investigation, which is ongoing.

“There’s much more to this case than what’s gotten out there,” said Quick, but he declined to provide details.

Beck was arrested on Sunday morning and charged Monday in Cass County District Court with one count of Class C felony aggravated assault.

Craig Bohl, head coach of the Bison football team, announced on Monday that Beck has been indefinitely suspended from the team, pending additional information.

Police said they were called to a fight sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday and found 24-year-old Matthew Aanenson lying unconscious on the ground. Several witnesses said Beck was the aggressor.

When police called Beck to return to the scene as he was walking away, he didn’t do as ordered, and a police sergeant ran after him and struggled with him during the arrest, according to a police report filed with the charges.

According to charging documents, Beck told police he and Aanenson had started arguing while in the Sports Bar. They continued the argument outside, where Beck said Aanenson tried to punch or push him.

Beck admitted he then started to hit Aanenson with his fists in the face and head until he fell to the ground. Beck was bleeding from the mouth, and said a third person, Mitch Havig, had hit him.

Havig admitted to hitting Beck, but said he’d done so to stop him from attacking Aanenson.

Police said Aanenson was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center with unknown injuries to the head, though he wasn’t a patient there by Monday. His condition is unknown.

Quick would not say whether he thought the arrest and charges were appropriate under the circumstances.

The area where the fight occurred is in a block of NP Avenue where police installed the department’s first public video cameras.

Deputy Police Chief Pat Claus said investigators on Tuesday turned over video from the surveillance cameras to Cass County prosecutors, but he wouldn’t say what the videos showed. An open records request for the videos filed by The Forum on Monday was denied by police, who said the videos were part of an ongoing investigation.

Cass County Jail officials said Beck bailed out on a $500 bond sometime after 8 p.m. Monday.

Beck has not returned a phone call from The Forum seeking comment.

Quick, a prominent Fargo defense attorney, also represented 10 then-Bison football players and three former players who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor election fraud last year.

Authorities said those 13 men, along with two other people, faked signatures on petitions for two initiated measures, which led to both measures being left off the November ballot.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541