Muzzy changes plea to guilty

Brian Keith Muzzy, 31, changed his plea on a charge of attempted murder from “not guilty” to “guilty” Thursday following a pretrial conference.

The charge is a Class A felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The change of plea cancels a jury trial that was scheduled to begin Monday.

Muzzy is charged with shooting Shaun Scott, 32, in the abdomen during an incident at the Holiday Park Mobile Home Park in Minot on Jan. 20. Muzzy turned himself in to authorities shortly after he was named a suspect in the shooting.

The plea, which came after consultation with his attorney and his family, is what is known as an “Alford Plea,” following the 1970 U.S. Supreme Court decision in North Carolina v. Alford.

“Basically it means that the person would enter a guilty plea because if the jury were to believe the facts as the state presented them, in all likelihood the jury would return a guilty verdict,” said Kerry Rosenquist, a partner at the law firm Rosenquist & Arnason, based in Grand Forks but with an office in Minot. Attorney Melissa Leathers of the Minot office worked as Muzzy’s defense attorney.

More specifically, the decision says that “[a]n individual accused of crime may voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly consent to the imposition of a prison sentence even if he is unwilling or unable to admit his participation in the acts constituting the crime.”

While held in the Ward County Jail, a small amount of marijuana was allegedly found on Muzzy, leading to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in a jail or correctional facility, a Class B felony. A pretrial conference for that charge is scheduled for May 8.

Sentencing for Muzzy on the attempted murder charge is set for June 14 at the Ward County Courthouse, with Northwest Judicial District Judge Todd Cresap presiding.