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86-year-old New Salem man accused of threatening to kill deputy

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An 86-year-old New Salem man faces three felonies for allegedly threatening to kill a Morton County deputy sheriff while holding the door of the patrol car closed.

Kenneth Groce is charged with felony terrorizing, simple assault on a peace officer and preventing arrest, along with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Groce parked behind and then approached on foot the patrol vehicle of Deputy Scott Austin, who was conducting traffic radar enforcement and working on a report shortly before noon Monday, Austin said in an affidavit. Groce allegedly accused Austin of harassing him and his adult grandsons, held his body weight against the driver’s door and said “I’m going to kill you,” according to the affidavit.

Austin forced the door open and told Groce he was under arrest. Groce tried to walk back to his pickup and at one point slapped the deputy’s hand away and pushed him, Austin said. Groce allegedly made more comments of “You’re dead, you wanna die?” and “Do you want me to kill you?” before more deputies arrived and restrained him. The affidavit does not state that Groce had a weapon when he approached the patrol car. He continued to resist as deputies tried to place him in a car, the affidavit states.

Groce made his initial court appearance Tuesday. The felony charges against him each carry possible five-year prison sentences. Court documents don’t list an attorney for him.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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