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One of four people charged in connection to a stabbing in Watford City pleaded guilty last week, while the primary defendant could owe his victim almost $40,000 in restitution.

Chase Mellon pleaded guilty on Feb. 14 to felony hindering law enforcement. He was charged after reportedly telling police he knew nothing about Luis Soto stabbing Gorge Romero after an altercation behind the bars in downtown Watford City in May 2017.

Northwest District Judge Daniel El-Dweek sentenced Mellon to two years unsupervised probation with no criminal violations and to pay $1,275 in fines and fees. If Mellon fulfills those conditions, his felony conviction will be deemed a misdemeanor. Mellon’s attorney, Kari Jensen, declined to comment.

His change of plea comes after Soto and two other defendants reached their respective dispositions late last year.

Soto pleaded guilty to felony attempted murder in November. Northwest District Presiding Judge Robin Schmidt sentenced him to eight years in prison with credit for 191 days, followed by five years supervised probation and to pay $1,025 in fines and fees, among other conditions.

Soto is housed at the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck. He is set for a restitution hearing next month in Watford City. In a court filing, McKenzie County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephenie Davis said Soto owes Romero more than $38,000 in medical bills. 

Romero reportedly sustained as many as four stab wounds, including three to his chest, one of them life-threatening.

Soto’s girlfriend, Blanca Meza-Garcia, pleaded guilty to felony hindering law enforcement in December. She reportedly drove Soto away from the scene with Mellon and Jeffrey Coffey, both of whom allegedly chased Romero after Soto reportedly stabbed him.

Meza-Garcia could also see her felony become a misdemeanor if she completes 18 months of unsupervised probation and pays $525 in fees imposed by Schmidt.

Coffey was the first of the four defendants to settle his case. He took a pretrial diversion agreement last fall for felony criminal facilitation. If he commits no criminal offenses or infractions for two years, prosecution will be suspended and the case dismissed.

Davis and McKenzie County State’s Attorney Chas Neff Jr. did not return emails about the defendants.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter