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Hebron man convicted of assault, acquitted of attempted murder

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A Hebron man accused of trying to kill his uncle has been acquitted on two of three charges filed against him following a February incident on a Morton County farmstead.

Eric Johnson, 36, was convicted of aggravated assault, court records show. The jury found him not guilty of terrorizing and attempted murder.

Johnson allegedly attacked his uncle on Feb. 28 while the man was working cattle. Johnson was carrying a rifle and told his uncle that if he didn't commit suicide Johnson would beat him to death, according to an affidavit filed by Morton County Sheriff's Lt. Tom Sharp. The nature of the dispute isn't clear.

The uncle fled in his vehicle after a fight in which Johnson allegedly gouged his eyes. The vehicle got stuck in an iced-over creek, and the uncle remained there for about 12 hours before deputies found him. He spent about two days in a hospital due to his injuries, according to Sharp.

Johnson initially was charged with assault and terrorizing. The attempted murder charge was filed a few days later. His trial started Monday and the jury returned the verdicts Wednesday.

Attorney Benjamin Pulkrabek, who defended Johnson on the attempted murder charge, said the case was not an easy one for jurors, adding “they did a great job in assuring the protection of citizen rights.” William Thomason, defense attorney on the terrorizing and assault charges, chose not to comment when contacted by the Tribune.

Assistant Morton County State's Attorney Chase Lingle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Johnson is in custody at Burleigh Morton Detention Center. Sentencing was not immediately scheduled. South Central District Judge James Hill ordered a presentence investigation.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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