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Paynesville Press - November 28, 2001

Last case settled in bar fight

By Linda Stelling and Michael Jacobson

Fred Doubek, the last person charged in connection with a bar fight in St. Martin in September 2000, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in Stearns County District Court on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Doubek, 26, agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge. In exchange, a felony charge of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of fifth-degree assault were dropped.

"My client decided to accept the offer because the prosecutor finally agreed to dismiss the more serious charges in exchange for his plea to disorderly conduct: the only offense he actually did commit," said Robert Stoneburner, a Paynesville attorney who represented Doubek.

According to court documents, the disagreement started inside Doochie's Bad Company Bar in St. Martin. Robert Northway and his brother Bryan became loud and appeared to present a threat of violence so bar patrons escorted them to their truck.

The brothers returned with a tire jack and a fight ensued, court records continue. During the fight, a warning was shouted that one of the brothers had a gun. (No gun was found by police.)

The bar patrons restrained the brothers until the police arrived. Doubek helped restrain Robert Northway on the ground.

A coroner later determined that Northway died of asphyxia due to external thoracic compression.

In a motion to dismiss the second-degree manslaughter charges, Stoneburner argued that Doubek had acted in self-defense and that the state lacked evidence for a conviction. That motion was denied, but the state eventually agreed to the plea bargain and to dismiss the manslaughter charge.

Doubek will appear for sentencing before Judge Skipper Pearson on Friday, Jan. 11, at 2:30 p.m. Doubek was released on his own, but was ordered not to have any contact with Northway's brother or his widow.

As part of the plea agreement, the county attorney will recommend a sentence of 30 days in jail and a $300 fine for Doubek. This is the same penalty that is expected for the other four defendants in the case, including Bryan Northway, when they are sentenced.

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