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Bryan Horwath, The Dickinson Press, Published July 31 2013

Attempted murder suspect's dismissal motion postponed

A decision on a motion to dismiss allegations of attempted murder was postponed at a hearing for Robert York at the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday.

The state is alleging that York, 45, tried to kill a man during a New Year’s Eve bar scuffle last year in Gladstone. Facing the charge — a Felony A crime under North Dakota law that could send the Arizona resident to prison for up to 20 years — York’s public defender Kevin McCabe argued that the prosecution had so far presented “incredible” and insufficient evidence to move forward with the case.

“We are claiming that the information is incorrect,” said McCabe during the hearing. “We believe that the state does not have evidence or credible testimony. The only evidence the state has is hearsay and statements that were brought into court, which cannot be brought to a trial. There was nobody who saw the gun pointed or saw the gun being fired.”

York was bound over for trial after pleading not guilty to the charge in May. Also present at the alleged crime scene last New Year’s Eve were York’s sons, Rusty and Ryan Shields, both of whom pleaded down from felony charges of being accomplices to the alleged attempted murder and were released from the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center in Dickinson.

Though he didn’t dismiss the charge, as requested by McCabe, Southwest District Judge William Herauf did seem to sympathize with the defense’s point of view while addressing McCabe’s concerns.

“I’ve read through this (case),” Herauf said. “I don’t understand how a person can point a shotgun at someone’s face, fire it and have that person not be killed or seriously injured. If the facts you have here were presented to a jury, you would have good evidence on your side. I don’t know what all the state’s evidence is, but that’s why we have trials.”

During a preliminary hearing in June, Southwest District Judge Zane Anderson noted that the state’s case for an attempted murder charge against York had “weaknesses.”

According to the criminal complaint: York is alleged to have pointed a loaded sawed-off shotgun at a man’s face from point-blank range and fired after a barroom argument spilled outside the Enchanted Hideaway Bar in Gladstone during a night of heavy drinking. The target of the alleged blast was caused no serious physical injuries.

A motion to dismiss hearing for York — who is being held in the SWMCCC — has been scheduled for Aug. 20 in Dickinson with a jury trial tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 28.