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Duluth man sentenced in Beltrami County assault

Donald William Laquire-Jackson, 21, of Duluth, Minn., was sentenced in Beltrami County District Court Sept. 14 on conviction for felony second-assault with a dangerous weapon causing substantial bodily harm.

He pleaded guilty Aug. 17 in to the amended charge. The original charge had been felony first-degree assault causing great bodily harm.

District Judge Paul Benshoof sentenced Laquire-Jackson to 33 months in prison with credit for 149 days served, pay fine and restitution of $26,530 and submit a DNA sample.

Beltrami County Sheriff's Office deputies responded at about 3 a.m. April 19 to a report of a stabbing in the 2900 block of Osprey Lane Southeast. Deputies were told en route that the victim had been taken to North Country Regional Hospital. They also received a description of the suspect.

Christopher Lee Barrett, 22, of Cass Lake, suffered severe injuries from numerous stab wounds to his chest and upper torso in the assault, and he was airlifted to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, N.D.

It was determined by medical staff at MeritCare Hospital that Barrett had been stabbed nine times in the chest area. One lung had been punctured and physicians struggled to keep it inflated. One stab wound was less than 1 inch from his heart.

Upon arrival, deputies located the suspect, later identified as Laquire-Jackson, who offered conflicting accounts of what had happened.

He first said he was "jumped" while on the road hitchhiking to Palace Casino, according to the complaint. He said he had been punched by one of the men who had jumped him and he then ran away.

Later, he said that one of the men had pulled a knife on him and that he stayed and defended himself. He said he disarmed the attacker while another person jumped him from behind. He said he then stabbed the person with back-handed motions. He also said he made slashing motions toward the person from whom he had taken away the knife.

He claimed that he then ran through the woods, arrived at a mobile home and hid, but later returned to the home on the 2900 block of Osprey Lane Southeast, where he was located by deputies.

Witnesses, however, told deputies that that there had been a party at the residence. One said Laquire-Jackson and Barrett had gotten into a confrontation at another residence either late April 18 or early April 19.

A witness said one of Laquire-Jackson's friends had held a large knife to Barrett's neck, and Barrett left, eventually arriving at a residence on the 2900 block of Osprey Lane Southeast.

Laquire-Jackson later showed up in a separate car, and he and Barrett began arguing about the earlier incident. The argument escalated into a physical incident.

A witness said Barrett fell to the ground, clutching his chest and stomach, yelling, "He's got something. He stabbed me."

Upon seeing that he was bleeding from the chest, the witness got him in a vehicle and drove Barrett to NCRH.

Deputies were unable to find witnesses who could corroborate Laquire-Jackson's statement that he was jumped.

One witness did say, however, that Laquire-Jackson backed away from Barrett, holding a knife, when Barrett fell to the ground.