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Standoff suspect enters Alford plea, sentenced to three years probation

Standoff suspect enters Alford plea, sentenced to three years probation


A Bismarck man will spend three years on probation on charges accusing him of assaulting two women, barricading himself in a home and leading law officers on a chase from Mandan to Bismarck.

Tjaden Smith, 20, in April was accused of assaulting two women in Mandan and threatening to kill a man. He fled to a Bismarck home and surrendered after a six-hour standoff, according to authorities.

Smith entered Alford pleas Wednesday in Morton County on charges of terrorizing, aggravated assault and misdemeanor simple assault. He is scheduled for a change of plea on reckless endangerment and fleeing charges in Burleigh County on Thursday. 

Under an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there is likely enough evidence for a conviction if the case goes to trial. Smith was sentenced to concurrent five-year sentences, with all but 180 days suspended during a three-year supervised probation period. He was given credit for 180 days served.

Smith entered the plea under an agreement reached between Assistant Morton County State’s Attorney Gabrielle Goter and defense attorney Steve Balaban. The agreement addressed the severity of the charges but also the need for services that Smith could obtain while on probation but not in prison, Goter said. Balaban agreed, adding that some of the victims in the incident support Smith.

“They’re looking to get him help rather than punish him,” Balaban said.

Probation services are meant to help more than punish people and “can be very successful,” South Central District Judge Daniel Borgen told Smith. The defendants who most often end up back in court are those who act too independently, he said.

“Work with your probation officer and you should be fine,” he said.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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