Plea hearing set for man who admitted shooting occupied truck
A plea hearing for a man who confessed to investigators that he emptied a rifle clip at a pickup truck with three occupants is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Wadena County courthouse.
A jury trial was scheduled to begin next week, but it was canceled after assistant Otter Tail County attorney Kurt Mortonson filed a notice with the court March 24 that a settlement had been reached.
Mortonson, the special prosecutor assigned to the case because Skov’s mother is a Wadena County employee, said he could not discuss the terms of any plea bargain before the hearing.
Skov’s public defender, Ryan Ries, did not respond to phone messages left at his office.
Skov could not be reached for comment.
According to court records:
Zachary Neuenschwander and Michael Poplin of Wadena, and Karl Natschke of Illinois brought a 2005 red Ford F-150 with 18 to 29 bullet holes in it to the sheriff’s office via a flatbed Oct. 6. The men claimed they were inside the vehicle when it was shot during the early morning hours at a rural Wadena County party.
Neuenschwander, the reported owner of the truck, said that after a fight at the party, he, Poplin and Natschke returned to the vehicle. Sometime after midnight, Neuenschwander said, he heard gunshots and quickly drove away, striking another vehicle in the process. Then the vehicle was shot multiple times, he said, and the bullets shattered his driver’s side windows. Neuenschwander said he drove away with a flat tire, then called a tow truck.
In interviews with sheriff’s deputies, all three said they couldn’t identify the shooter.
Officers executed a search warrant at the site of the party around 3 p.m. Oct. 6.
There, Brenen Brockpahler said he witnessed the Ford hit Skov’s truck as it tried to leave the scene. After that, Brockpahler said Skov began shooting at the Ford with a .22 rifle with a banana clip. At one point, Skov said “They are going to have flats, let’s get them, follow them,” Brockpahler reported.
Another witness, Sara Frie, said she saw Skov fire at the pickup.
On Oct. 8, in an interview with a sheriff’s office investigator, Skov said he blacked out on the night of the party. He told the investigator he “recalls seeing a vehicle with bullet holes in it” and then “he realized that he had a rifle in his hands.”
Skov reported he woke up the next morning “terrified and unsure of what to do.” He said he “usually doesn’t flip out and start shooting stuff up.”
At Skov’s initial court appearance Oct. 21, the judge set unconditional bail at $200,000, but allowed him to be released - and placed on house arrest - for $5,000 cash on certain condition, including refraining from mood altering substances and assaultive or abusive behavior. He is restricted from possessing firearms or contacting the victims. The terms of house arrest, which were amended twice in the past few months, allow him to go to school, work, medical appointments, church and his family’s ranch.