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Surrogate Judge Allan Schmalenberger has signed orders dismissing felony endangering of a vulnerable adult against Kathleen Bennett.

Bennett, 59, was accused of tying her 82-year old, senile mother to a chair as she attended pipeline protests a year ago, among other alleged abuse.

Defense attorney William Kirschner and Morton County Assistant State's Attorney Brian Grosinger agreed Tuesday to a state's motion to dismiss after several issues came to light at Bennett's pretrial conference that day.

Bennett was absent, in Nevada with limited funds, Kirschner said. Schmalenberger said she was required to attend her pretrial conference.

Her trial, set for next week, was also short two essential witnesses who Kirschner said did not want to appear. At least one was out of state, he said. 

She also forfeited $2,050 of her bond, by Schmalenberger's order.

Bennett is also charged in Burleigh County Court with felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

She's accused of using $1,200 of her mother's money for hotel rent, meals and legal fees while in Bismarck as her mother was hospitalized. Her trial is to begin Jan. 16.

Bennett's mother is now in Nevada under guardianship of her two sons. Court letters indicate her condition has improved.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter