A prosecutor has moved to dismiss a simple assault-domestic violence charge against a Bismarck legislator.
David Weiler, a Republican state representative, was charged March 12 with the Class A misdemeanor after being accused of assaulting his wife, who has sought a divorce from him.
McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson moved Wednesday to drop the charge. In an affidavit, Erickson said Weiler’s wife, Nicole, recanted her earlier statements that her husband had punched her.
“I have maintained my innocence all along,” David Weiler told the Tribune in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. He said he would comment further after Erickson’s motion is signed by a judge.
Weiler remains the subject of a citizen recall attempt.
Erickson took over the prosecution of the case after Nicole Weiler told Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Nesvig and a victim advocate on May 20 that her husband had not hit her, making Nesvig a potential witness for the defense. The state’s attorney’s office asked the Bismarck Police Department to further investigate the alleged assault and Nicole Weiler’s new statements.
“Nicole Weiler’s May 20th statement and additional circumstantial evidence not available to the prosecution at the time this charge was filed, now suggests David Weiler is innocent of this charge,” Erickson’s affidavit said.
Erickson wrote in the affidavit that he spoke with David Weiler and his attorney, Justin Roness, on July 5. In that conversation, and subsequent phone conversations, they discussed whether Nicole Weiler should be charged with making a false report to law enforcement.
“Upon having time to consider the matter, David Weiler believes his children have been put through enough trauma already and does not want to subject his children to anything that might inhibit their ability to get past this incident,” Erickson said. David Weiler would prefer that the matter be closed so he can “try and get his life back,” Erickson’s affidavit said.
Police reports said Nicole Weiler had a bruise under her left eye and a cut on her left eyebrow from the March incident. Erickson’s Wednesday motion to dismiss did not discuss what had caused her injuries. Erickson was out of the office and not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Nicole Weiler did not return a message left at her office seeking comment on Wednesday.
David Weiler pleaded guilty in April 2009 to Class B misdemeanor simple assault for assaulting his wife on March 27, 2009. He was given a one-year deferred imposition of sentence and was ordered to complete domestic violence offender treatment, which he did.
David Weiler was first elected to the state House in 2000 to represent District 30; he was re-elected in 2004 and 2008. When the second assault charge was filed in March 2010, he faced calls for his resignation from political opponents as well as from members of his own party, including Gov. John Hoeven.
Hoeven asked for Weiler’s resignation in late March after the second arrest. Hoeven could not to be reached; he was catching a flight back from Washington D.C., where he was attending campaign fundraisers.
“I don’t think it’ll change his opinion about Dave stepping down, but I didn’t get a chance to explain the situation to him,” said Hoeven spokesman Don Canton, explaining that bad reception cut their conversastion short.
Adam Jones, executive director for the state Republican Party, said the party continues to wish the best for the Weiler family, the same message it has stressed since the first charge was filed.
“Dave hasn’t resigned. We know there are efforts, but we’re not here to speculate on things to come. But as of now, Dave represents District 30,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, also from District 30, said his earlier comments that it might be best for Weiler to resign were in reference to the wellbeing of the Weiler family. He said Weiler should still consider resigning if it would mean less stress on Nicole or their children.
“These family things are touchy on both sides of the issue,” Stenehjem said. “Love and hate can be pretty close. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two.”
The Democratic Party stands firm in the belief that Weiler should be recalled if he does not resign, but Chairman Mark Schneider said that effort should continue to come from District 30 residents.
Schneider said either way, Republicans never did enough after Weiler’s first conviction.
Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, did not return a message left at his residence. The Tribune tried calling him five times.
Local folk singer Kris Kitko and others have launched a recall petition against the District 30 representative.
Kitko, a resident of District 30, said the second incident brought to her attention that Weiler had been convicted of domestic violence once before and was still serving in the Legislature. She said the dismissal of the more recent charge has no bearing on her decision to proceed to the recall effort.
Kitko said she has more than half of the 1,902 signatures she needs for the recall to head to the ballot. The signatures must be turned in by Aug. 4 for the recall to be part of the November general election.
Kitko said she is aiming to have all the signatures turned in by that date but that she does have a year to turn them in.
David Weiler has repeatedly refused to resign and never wavered in proclamations of his innocence.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever feel vindicated,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s been a horrible experience. But as I said all along, the facts will come out, and they are starting to come out.”
(Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or email@example.com.)