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61-year-old ND wife pleads guilty to murdering husband, lawyer says 'something snapped'

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FINLEY, N.D. – The “guilty” was quiet, but its impact filled the courtroom here Wednesday when Sherry Midstokke answered how she would plead to charges of murdering her husband. A trial for the 61-year-old was set to start next month but will no longer be necessary, as Judge Steven Marquart accepted a plea deal signed by Midstokke’s lawyer, Blake Hankey, and Steele County State’s Attorney Charles Stock. Under the agreement, Midstokke pleaded guilty to murder, a Class AA felony, and faces up to 30 years in prison instead of the lifetime term state law allows for in Class AA convictions. Ten of those years would be suspended if she does not violate her probation if she is released. In the seven-minute hearing held in Steele County District Court, Marquart and the attorneys recounted details of the crime, which occurred in February 2014. Authorities found Lyle Midstokke, 66, dead on the couple’s bedroom floor. Sherry Midstokke told investigators she had come home to find her husband dead but soon after confessed to killing him. During the hearing, Stock said Sherry Midstokke told authorities she had been drugging her husband during the weekend prior to her Monday arrest in an attempt to make him, in her words, “go to sleep and never wake up.” When that didn’t work, Stock said Midstokke placed a bag over her husband’s head and strangled him with a dog leash. “Do you agree with that?” Marquart asked Midstokke about Stock’s statement. She answered “yes,” after a slight hesitation. Hankey said the reason for the pause was because he and his client wanted to make it clear the act was not premeditated. “She doesn’t deny that it happened, but it is important to note that she didn’t plan this out,” Hankey said. “She knows that she did it, but something snapped in her and she didn’t plan for it to happen.” Sherry and Lyle Midstokke had been married for more than 40 years and had no prior history of domestic disputes. Midstokke had previously claimed she was mentally ill at the time of the murder, but a court-ordered evaluation conducted by the North Dakota State Hospital deemed her mentally fit. A sentencing date has not been set for Midstokke. Marquart ordered a presentence investigation at the request of Hankey. The investigation is a routine court process that would explore Midstokke’s history to find extenuating circumstance that could potentially increase or decrease the penalty.
FINLEY, N.D. – The “guilty” was quiet, but its impact filled the courtroom here Wednesday when Sherry Midstokke answered how she would plead to charges of murdering her husband.A trial for the 61-year-old was set to start next month but will no longer be necessary, as Judge Steven Marquart accepted a plea deal signed by Midstokke’s lawyer, Blake Hankey, and Steele County State’s Attorney Charles Stock.Under the agreement, Midstokke pleaded guilty to murder, a Class AA felony, and faces up to 30 years in prison instead of the lifetime term state law allows for in Class AA convictions. Ten of those years would be suspended if she does not violate her probation if she is released.In the seven-minute hearing held in Steele County District Court, Marquart and the attorneys recounted details of the crime, which occurred in February 2014.Authorities found Lyle Midstokke, 66, dead on the couple’s bedroom floor. Sherry Midstokke told investigators she had come home to find her husband dead but soon after confessed to killing him.During the hearing, Stock said Sherry Midstokke told authorities she had been drugging her husband during the weekend prior to her Monday arrest in an attempt to make him, in her words, “go to sleep and never wake up.”When that didn’t work, Stock said Midstokke placed a bag over her husband’s head and strangled him with a dog leash.“Do you agree with that?” Marquart asked Midstokke about Stock’s statement. She answered “yes,” after a slight hesitation.Hankey said the reason for the pause was because he and his client wanted to make it clear the act was not premeditated.“She doesn’t deny that it happened, but it is important to note that she didn’t plan this out,” Hankey said. “She knows that she did it, but something snapped in her and she didn’t plan for it to happen.”Sherry and Lyle Midstokke had been married for more than 40 years and had no prior history of domestic disputes.Midstokke had previously claimed she was mentally ill at the time of the murder, but a court-ordered evaluation conducted by the North Dakota State Hospital deemed her mentally fit.A sentencing date has not been set for Midstokke. Marquart ordered a presentence investigation at the request of Hankey.The investigation is a routine court process that would explore Midstokke’s history to find extenuating circumstance that could potentially increase or decrease the penalty.

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