Bismarck woman pleads guilty to sneaking into ex's vehicle, stabbing him

Judge John Grinsteiner sentenced Melanie Denise Nimley to 360 days, but she will not have to serve that time if she follows the conditions of her two-year supervised probation.

Melanie Nimley
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BISMARCK — A Bismarck woman will avoid additional jail time if she completes two years of probation for sneaking into her ex-husband’s vehicle before stabbing him.

Melanie Denise Nimley, 45, pleaded guilty Monday, June 21, in Burleigh County District Court to lesser charges for the Nov. 18 attack in Bismarck. As part of a plea agreement, the attempted murder felony charge, which carried a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison, was dropped to an aggravated assault felony.

Prosecutors also agreed to take out the weapons element for two other felony charges, changing them to terrorizing that involved domestic violence. At most, Nimley faced five years for each of the felony counts.

A child neglect felony was reduced to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the deprivation of a minor.

Judge John Grinsteiner sentenced Nimley to 360 days, but she will not have to serve that time if she follows the conditions of her two-year supervised probation.


Police said Nimley drove on Nov. 18 to where she knew where her ex-husband, Sullivan Nimley, was getting ready to leave for work, according to court documents. She climbed into the back seat of his vehicle with a kitchen knife and stayed hidden until her ex-husband noticed her in the vehicle as he came out of a Loaf and Jug convenience store at North Washington Street and Century Avenue in Bismarck, police said.

He agreed to drive her home, but as he drove, Melanie Nimley put her knife to his throat and said she was going to kill him, court documents alleged. During a struggle, she stabbed her ex-husband in the right shoulder, police said.

Sullivan Nimley lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree at 2829 Ithica Drive, about two blocks west of the Loaf and Jug, court documents said.

Melanie Nimley left her three children at home alone during the incident, police said. She told police brought the knife with her and planned to threaten her ex-husband into leaving her alone, court documents said.

"I stabbed him," she said, according to police. "It was the only way I could be free of him."

Melanie Nimley told Grinsteiner she still has her children and has been attending counseling.

"I'm not a violent person," she said.

She committed a "crime of passion," defense attorney Steve Balaban said. Melanie Nimley has lost her nursing license and already has served 61 days in jail while awaiting sentencing, he said.


Balaban acknowledged his client's actions were serious. He noted she was drinking that night.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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