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Wehmas pleads guilty to charges in June 2008 shootings

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Wehmas pleads guilty to charges in June 2008 shootings
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A young Park Rapids mother faces up to 110 months in jail after entering into a plea bargain in a shooting at a rural Hubbard County cabin last summer.

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Stephanie Ann Wehmas, 21, pled guilty Wednesday to two counts of First Degree Assault in the shootings of her ex-boyfriend and his friend at a cabin in Clover Township. The plea agreement resulted in the dismissal of two counts of First Degree Attempted Murder and one count of Second Degree Assault. Cody Allen Paulson, 19, received a gunshot wound to his upper thigh and Jason Howard Walker, 22, was shot in the hand in the domestic incident June 16. Paulson is the father of Wehmas' two children.

The incident was the second in an apparently stormy relationship Wehmas and Paulson had.

Police were called to her apartment in April 2008 on a domestic complaint in which Wehmas was allegedly wielding a knife.

"Paulson said he feared she was going to hurt him or their two infant children," the investigative report stated.

The complaint states Wehmas actually cut her own hand and was bleeding when police interrupted the argument. She was charged with Domestic Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing, for fighting with officers trying to take her into custody.

At her initial court appearance April 21, 2008, Wehmas was released on bond. In many domestic disputes, the court orders a "no contact" provision to keep the disagreeing parties away from each other. That didn't happen. Paulson allegedly did not insist the judge impose the order.

Wehmas was ordered to be law-abiding, however, as a condition of her release. That didn't happen either.

On May 5, 2008, she had entered into a plea agreement on the knife incident, in which the charges would be converted to one count of Disorderly Conduct. Sentencing was continued for six months and the charge would have been dismissed if she had been law-abiding.

But on the night of June 15, she made one or more calls to Paulson, indicating she was coming over to Walker's cabin on Jade Rose Drive.

Prosecutors say Wehmas was upset that Paulson had a new girlfriend, a woman named Candace Crouse. According to an investigative report, Paulson relayed the following story to officers that arrived on the scene after the shootings in the early morning of June 16:

Crouse had left the cabin to go outside when she encountered Wehmas. She ran back into the house.

There are conflicting accounts as to what happened next. Prosecutors say Wehmas took a shot at Crouse; Wehmas' attorney said Crouse admitted no shots were fired.

"Cody stated that Jason came to the door and told Stephanie to leave and had actually fired one round in the air from his own gun in an effort to intimidate her to leave," the investigative report states.

Paulson went outside, under the impression Wehmas had left, when he encountered her holding a .22 caliber rifle near the driveway.

"Cody stated that Stephanie told him, 'I'll shoot you,'" the report states. "Cody said that he was close enough that he thought he could grab the barrel of the gun and he reached out to grab it and she shot him" in the upper left thigh, the report states.

"Cody stated that Jason was standing in the doorway at this time still holding the gun that he shot up in the air with earlier," the report states. "Stephanie started shooting repeatedly towards the direction of Jason. Cody didn't realize at that point that Jason had been in fact hit by one of the rounds that Stephanie had shot towards him."

Her attorney maintained she fired in self-defense. Prosecutors say the shootings were premeditated. Paulson told officers Wehmas had made numerous threats against Crouse and had shot the windshield out of Crouse's car two weeks earlier.

Wehmas had left the scene when officers arrived in the early morning hours of June 16; she was later apprehended near Osage. The criminal complaint states Wehmas fired a shot at Becker County deputies trying to apprehend her. She was charged in connection with tht shooting, too.

The two victims were taken to St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids for treatment of their injuries. Walker was later moved to St. Mary's Hospital in Detroit Lakes to undergo surgery on his left hand.

On June 30, Wehmas appeared again in Hubbard County District Court on the knife charges. A judge issued a "no contact" order. She was eventually sentenced to 90 days in jail in connection with the earlier domestic incident.

Sentencing is set for April 27 in Hubbard County District Court in the shootings. If the sentencing recommendations are followed by a Hubbard County District Judge, Wehmas will spend 110 months in jail.

The same day Wehmas appeared in Hubbard County District Court, she later entered a plea in the Becker County incident, pleading guilty to a drive-by shooting with a dangerous weapon.

She will serve 36 months concurrently for that crime.

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