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Two Bemidji men charged with first-degree assault

BEMIDJI—Two Bemidji men have been charged with assault after allegedly attacking a third man who was later airlifted to Fargo with severe injuries.

James Michael Penn, 35, and Sean Alan Sills, 23, were both charged on Monday with first-degree assault to cause great bodily harm and aiding and abetting first-degree assault to cause great bodily harm.

According to court documents, officers responded to a report of an assault in the 400 block of Central Ave. SE at about 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10. They encountered a man wrapped in a blanket and lying on the ground with his mouth and nose bleeding.

The criminal complaint said the victim, identified as M.H., was reportedly in critical condition with a broken neck and a fractured skull.

Officers spoke with three witnesses about the alleged assault. After hearing a commotion, one witness looked near the area and saw a group of three to five men. The witness saw two of the men assaulting the victim and called law enforcement.

Another witness informed law enforcement that she also had seen three or four men yelling. According to court documents, she saw one of the men kick the victim in the legs, which caused him to fall. She then saw two of the men begin to kick and hit the victim. After Penn briefly walked away, the witness said she saw Penn return and kick the victim, who was already on the ground, repeatedly in the head.

A third witness also heard the commotion, found the victim on the ground and wrapped him in the blanket. Law enforcement arrived shortly after.

A man matching Penn's description was reportedly walking on the south side of town four days later on Sept. 14, the complaint said. When an officer began to arrest Penn for the alleged assault, Sills, who was with Penn at the time, spoke up and said he was responsible for the assault and that he "beat the hell out of that guy," according to the document.

Jordan Shearer

Jordan Shearer covers crime and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. A Rochester native and Bemidji State grad, he previously spent several years in western Nebraska writing for the Keith County News. Follow him on Twitter @Jmanassa

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