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Red Lake man pleads guilty to assault requiring victim to have eye surgically removed

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MINNEAPOLIS - A 47-year-old Red Lake man pleaded guilty Tuesday for assaulting a Grand Rapids man with an axe handle.

During a hearing in U.S. federal court, Joseph William Howard Jr. entered a guilty plea to one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

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In a plea agreement, Howard admitted he assaulted the victim at a Redby residence Jan. 13 without just cause, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, authorities were called Jan. 13 to a residence on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and found the victim, whose face had been severely beaten and lacerated. Officers also discovered blood splattered on the bed and bedroom walls where the victim was staying. A bloody axe handle was found behind the dryer in the home's utility room. As a result of the assault, the victim suffered multiple fractures, and his left eye had to be surgically removed.

Howard faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced. No date has been set for the hearing.

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