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Associated Press , Published September 30 2013

North Dakota inmate's hearing to be held at prison for security reasons

BISMARCK — An inmate charged with attempted murder for an attack on a North Dakota prison guard will make his initial court appearance in prison instead of in court for security reasons.

John Bridges, 43, is accused of stabbing corrections officer Daryl Lawson with a homemade knife on Aug. 25. He also is charged with possession of contraband by an inmate for possessing a weapon. Lawson had minor injuries and was back to work the next day.

Bridges is already serving a life sentence plus 20 years without parole after pleading guilty last fall to the kidnapping and ax murder of Lee Clay in Burleigh County. Bridges admitted to forcing Clay into his van and killing him during a struggle on Interstate 94 in 2012.

Bridges' initial court appearance, during which he will be informed of the charged against him, is scheduled for Oct. 21, the Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1blcd7t ).

Such hearings are usually held in court, but Bridges' hearing will be held in the North Dakota State Penitentiary.

Burleigh County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Hulm said after hearing about Bridges' past convictions, current sentence and new charges, the department asked court officials if the hearing could be held in the prison.

Donna Wunderlich, court administrator for the South Central and Southwest judicial districts, said the decision to hold the hearing at the prison was made because of security concerns.

Tim Tausend, spokesman for the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said such hearings happen probably about once a year. But Burleigh County officials believe it is the first time one of the county's hearings will be held at the prison.

When Bridges was convicted of kidnapping and murder for the slaying of Clay last year, prosecutors asked that he be given a life sentence, saying a psychologist who evaluated Bridges called him the most psychopathic and dangerous person she had evaluated.

According to an Illinois appellate court ruling, Bridges also was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Illinois in 1986 after firing a gun following an argument with several people.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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