BEMIDJI -- A Bemidji man was sentenced Monday to five years of probation for assaulting another man in September.
The sentence Judge John Melbye gave James Michael Penn, 36, was part of a stayed 15-month prison sentence. That means Penn won’t have to serve his prison time as long as he successfully completes his probation.
Penn declined to say anything during the hearing.
Penn was originally charged with one count of first-degree assault and one count of aiding and abetting a first-degree assault. He ultimately pleaded guilty in May to an amended charge of aiding and abetting a third-degree assault.
Penn was one of two men charged in the incident. Sean Alan Sills, 24, was sentenced in May to five years of supervised probation for third-degree assault. Like Penn’s conviction, Sills’ probation was part of a stayed sentence.
According to the original complaint, both Penn and Sills were involved in the assault of a man in the Nymore neighborhood of Bemidji in September. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, the victim was reportedly wrapped in a blanket and “bleeding from his mouth and nose.” The victim was ultimately taken to a Fargo, N.D., hospital with a fractured skull and broken neck, according to the complaint.
One witness reported that there were three to five men assaulting the victim.
Penn was the next door neighbor of one of the witnesses. Once she heard the commotion, the witness went near her garage and yelled that she was going to call the authorities. Penn reportedly came running toward her and told her not to call the police since the situation was under control. After continuing to hear commotion, the witness went to investigate and found the victim. At that point, she wrapped the victim in the blanket, and the authorities arrived shortly thereafter.
A third witness said she saw Penn kick the victim multiple times in the head while the victim was lying on the ground.
A police officer encountered Penn a few days later and arrested him. Sills, who was with Penn at the time, told the officer that he was the one responsible for the assault. Sills was then arrested as well. Sills confessed to punching the victim in the face six times “in rapid succession,” according to the complaint.