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Harley David Leritz

Man withdraws plea in death of Park Rapids teen

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By Sarah Smith

 A Menahga man abruptly withdrew his guilty plea Monday morning in the February death of a Park Rapids teen.

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Harley David Leritz, 21, was simultaneously charged with a probation violation for a 2012 criminal sexual conduct charge and for the murder of Keila Gem Knowles, 19, in her Park Rapids apartment.

A plea hearing was set for first thing Monday morning, but Leritz opted out of entering a guilty plea.

Meanwhile, Tuesday morning’s omnibus hearing in the same case had been cancelled.

Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said he couldn’t say why Leritz changed his mind.

He met privately with members of Knowles’ family in the courtroom after the hearing.

It is apparent from the court proceedings that Leritz has been taking jail advice from his fellow inmates. He tried to remove Judge Robert Tiffany but the time had expired.

Judge Paul Rasmussen was scheduled to hear the plea Monday and then omnibus matters Tuesday, but those have been cancelled.

Leritz is jailed in HubBard County on $1.5 million unconditional bail and $1 million conditional.

Leritz has previously been convicted of traffic and liquor charges, except for the Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge in 2012, which involved an underage female.

For that crime he received 30 days in jail and 10 years of supervised probation. He is charged with a probation violation in that case, for allegedly failing to remain law abiding during his probation for that crime.

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ssmit

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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