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Man, accused of stalking woman at Bemidji Walmart, enters plea

BEMIDJI - A man accused of stalking a Bemidji woman will be sentenced after entering an Alford plea to the charge.

Joshua Joseph Brunner of Cambridge on Aug. 7 entered an Alford plea for gross misdemeanor stalking.

An Alford plea has the legal effect of a guilty plea. Brunner did not admit guilt, but conceded that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

Brunner entered his plea before Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof. Sentencing has been set for Oct. 1.

According to state statute, a person can be found guilty for stalking if he or she follows, monitors or pursues another, whether in person or through any available technological or other means. The maximum penalty, if convicted, is one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

A Bemidji woman reported in October 2011 that a man, later identified as Brunner, had approached her more than once in Walmart, asking if she was single and if he could have her phone number. In subsequent visits, he appeared to follow her around the store, she said.

After reporting the activity to police, the woman was advised to contact law enforcement if she saw him again. She called police March 14 while at Walmart, reporting that the same man again was following her around, according to the complaint.