BISMARCK, N.D. — Grant County State's Attorney Todd Schwarz said he's asking a judge to dismiss one of the seven charges against Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who's jailed for terrorizing residents of Leith during an armed patrol.
The count involves Gregory Bruce of New Leipzig, who's managing a Leith website and who was in Leith at the time of the patrol in mid-November. Cobb and follower Kynan Dutton, both carrying long-barreled guns, approached Bruce and Leith councilman Lee Cook when the two men were outside Cook's house.
Schwarz's motion said Bruce told Schwarz and a Grant County sheriff's deputy sometime after Cobb's Feb. 10 pretrial conference "that he had no fear that Mr. Cobb was going to cause him any injury," which was contrary to previous statements.
"In his original statements, Mr. Bruce indicated that terrorizing was the appropriate charge, however upon further review at this stage of the case, it is clear that Mr. Bruce lacked the requisite candor, trustworthiness and credibility for this count to be continued any further, requiring the state, under the rules of professional conduct, to request the court's order dismissing Count 2 with prejudice," Schwarz wrote.
The felony count for terrorizing Cook remains intact, as do charges involving five other residents. Each count is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Bruce said Schwarz has not talked to him about dropping the charge, and said he presumes Schwarz is doing so because of Bruce's critical comments on a leithnd.com website and because in his written statement, he said he didn't feel any fear when approached by the armed men.
Schwarz has proposed a plea agreement that would reduce all the charges to one felony, release Cobb for time served in county jail on an extended probation and prevent him from owning guns. A court judge gave Schwarz and Cobb's attorney Ryan Heintz until the end of February to negotiate the agreement.
A three-day jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin July 15.
Leith Mayor Ryan Schock and Cook, as well as Bruce, have openly opposed a plea agreement and want Schwarz to proceed to trial.
Dutton was released on a plea agreement that stipulated he would testify in Cobb's case. He has since moved to Underwood.