BISMARCK, N.D. — A Bismarck man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for attempting to strangle his stepson.
Paul Shumpert, 47, pleaded guilty in December to Class C felony reckless endangerment and two counts of Class C felony child abuse or neglect. An aggravated assault charge was dismissed at that time.
South Central District Judge Tom Schneider on Thursday sentenced Shumpert to five years in prison with all but 18 months suspended and five years of supervised probation.
Shumpert was accused of strangling his 13-year-old stepson on May 29 after an argument with the boy in which Shumpert claimed the boy was being disrespectful.
The boy was unresponsive when police arrived at the scene. Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Nesvig said medical personnel at Sanford Health had not been sure the boy would survive his injuries, though he did later recover after several days in the hospital.
Nesvig said the boy’s mother — Shumpert’s wife — initially was cooperative with the prosecution, but later took Shumpert’s side and sent the 13-year-old to California to stay with relatives.
Nesvig, arguing for prison time in the case, said Shumpert’s actions went “far, far beyond any parental discipline.” She said he has a violent criminal history and a history of minimizing his actions. She said Shumpert told police he thought the boy was faking his injuries.
Shumpert’s defense attorney, Adam Fleischman, argued for a sentence of probation with credit for time served, which comes to 275 days. Shumpert has grown up a lot and had a lot of time for introspection in jail, Fleischman said.
Shumpert said he thought some time in a halfway house would be helpful to him. He credited his reading of self-help books in jail with helping him learn better ways of dealing with stress. He said he would do any kind of treatment required to avoid such situations in the future, though he denied trying to strangle the boy.
“I didn’t intentionally try to hurt him, and I didn’t realize I had,” he said.
Schneider ordered Shumpert to abstain from using or being around alcohol while on probation, and ordered him to complete recommended chemical dependency treatment, cognitive restructuring, domestic violence offender treatment, parenting classes, anger management and family therapy. He also prohibited him from having contact with the stepchildren who witnessed the attack on the 13-year-old boy.