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Blackduck man sentenced for child endangerment

BEMIDJI--A Blackduck was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail and five years of probation after his 10-year-old son shot himself in the leg. David Alan Bjerkness, 50, received a "stay of imposition" during his sentencing Monday. Essentially, that ...

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BEMIDJI-A Blackduck was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail and five years of probation after his 10-year-old son shot himself in the leg.

David Alan Bjerkness, 50, received a "stay of imposition" during his sentencing Monday. Essentially, that means the felony-level conviction will be downgraded to a gross misdemeanor if he successfully completes his probation. He was charged with child endangerment by allowing access to a firearm.

Bjerkness was first charged Nov. 15 after his 10-year-old son shot himself during a visit to his house. The child found a .22 caliber revolver between his father's bed and the wall. The son shot himself in the knee while he was trying to uncock the firearm, which he accidentally cocked while trying to unload the gun, the original complaint said.

Bjerkness told his son to claim he got the injury from falling on a powertool. His wound was initially stitched, but his mother took him back to the hospital when it started to swell. That's when the X-Ray showed the bullet in his knee.

During Monday's sentencing, Bjerkness' defense attorney Diana Sweeney said Bjerkness didn't realize the bullet actually penetrated his son's knee and thought it only nicked his leg. If he'd known the full extent of what happened, he wouldn't have fabricated the story, Sweeney said. She went on to describe Bjerkness' decision as a "knee-jerk reaction."

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Bjerkness didn't give any additional comments outside of what his attorney said.

Prosecutor Ashley Nelson also criticized Bjerkness' decision, explaining that the child could have received proper treatment right away if the hospital staff knew what had happened.

Although Judge Shari Schluchter sentenced Bjerkness to 30 days of jail, she granted flexibility in how he serves that time. Essentially, she will allow him to serve his time in segments so that he can continue to work and provide child support.

The judge also granted Bjerkness to have contact with his son as long as the mother allows him to do so.

Related Topics: BLACKDUCKACCIDENTS
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