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Cloquet man pleads guilty to assault with can of beans

Kenneth Merle Perry Jr.

A Cloquet man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of third-degree assault for throwing a can of chili beans at his sister.

Kenneth Merle Perry Jr., 26, was initially charged with second- and third-degree assault -- both felony charges -- as well as gross misdemeanor domestic assault for the June 29 incident.

According to the criminal complaint:

On June 29, 2012, the Cloquet Police Department was dispatched to a home on the 1500 block of Avenue C regarding a domestic disturbance. When they responded, they learned that Kenneth Perry had thrown a can of chili beans at his sister's head, causing a gash in her forehead that required several stitches.

"The can of chili beans is considered a dangerous weapon when thrown from close range," the complaint said.

The case went to trial Tuesday, with jury selection in the morning and witness testimony in the afternoon. Assistant Carlton County Attorney James Ross prosecuted the case, while Joanna Wiegert was appointed defense attorney for Perry.

Initial charges of

second-degree assault against Perry were dropped before the trial, Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said, because they were "overly optimistic." That third-

degree felony assault and domestic assault charges.

Pertler said Perry decided to accept a plea deal at the end of the day Tuesday, so the trial was discontinued.

Perry pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor domestic assault and the third-degree assault charge was dismissed as part of the plea bargain.

Ross did not return calls from the Pine Journal, so information about the probable sentence was unavailable.

Pertler said the victim in the case changed her story when she testified during the trial, which weakened the case for the prosecution. He didn't know why Perry decided to plead guilty rather than wait for the jury to decide.

"It's a crap shoot," he said, referring to the uncertainty involved in any jury trial.

Pertler said state sentencing guidelines for gross misdemeanor domestic assault is one year and one day of local time with the sentence stayed unless the defendant has four or more criminal history points.

Perry previously pleaded guilty to three counts of domestic assault in 2008. A 60-day local sentence was stayed on that case with one year of probation.

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