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Moorhead man pleads guilty in horrific attack case

Michael Anthony Powell

MOORHEAD - A Moorhead man accused of holding a woman against her will for 24 hours while he beat, raped, stabbed and soaked her in lighter fluid pleaded guilty today to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Under the plea agreement, charges of criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment against 51-year-old Michael Anthony Powell were dropped.

Powell will remain in the Clay County Jail until his Nov. 21 sentencing. Guidelines call for him to serve 27 months in prison, said his attorney, Mara Rausch.

Although Powell didn't admit to the sexual conduct and imprisonment charges, he will have to register as a predatory offender because the assault charge arose from the same set of circumstances, Rausch said.

Powell admitted in court that he cut his victim close to the collarbone when an argument between them escalated July 1. The West Fargo woman was concerned that Powell would reveal their relationship to her boyfriend, according to court documents.

Swiveling back and forth in the witness chair, Powell let out a loud sigh and paused when Assistant County Attorney Pamela Harris asked him if he cut the woman in self-defense.

"I don't remember. I don't think so," he said.

Harris pressed Powell on whether he was just admitting to the act to get the plea agreement.

"I'm agreeing to what I think I did," Powell said.

Harris again asked him if he stabbed the woman.

"I didn't stab her, I cut her," said Powell, who eventually admitted the act wasn't in self-defense.

Harris said the assault charge seemed like the best fit for the crime given the evidence and statements from the 46-year-old victim. Powell initially claimed the woman stabbed herself and the sex was consensual.

Powell, who said he was was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States seven years ago, held the woman against her will in his trailer at 1224 15th Ave. N., No. 27, threatening to light her on fire and cut her into pieces, according to court documents. The woman lost so much blood she was in and out of consciousness before she escaped the trailer.