MOORHEAD — A Moorhead man accused of a November shooting at a Dilworth apartment building will spend time behind bars for illegally possessing a firearm, but jurors could not decide whether he was guilty of the shooting itself.
A Clay County jury found Dennis Scott Hackley, 38, guilty on Thursday, April 29, of being a felon illegally in possession of a firearm but could not reach an agreement on three felony counts of second-degree assault. The three charges alleged he shot at two people and injured one on Nov. 12 at an apartment on Fifth Street Northwest in Dilworth.
Judge Tammy Merkins declared a mistrial for those three counts, meaning Hackley will only be sentenced on the firearm possession charge. Sentencing is scheduled for May 27.
Prosecutors tried to convince jurors that Hackley shot 38-year-old Christopher Lussier in the leg. Lussier, who lives at the apartment with his fiancee, 31-year-old Angela Decoteau, testified that Hackley shot him without warning before fleeing the scene.
Decoteau said she saw Hackley run down a set of apartment stairs. She later told police Hackley shot at her.
Hackley denied the allegations and said he was not at the apartment that day. His attorney, Brian Toay, said there was no evidence Hackley fired the weapon, which police never found.
Toay argued someone else shot Lussier. Hackley had an affair with Decoteau while she was dating Lussier, Toay said, adding the engaged couple had reason to dislike Hackley.
In one exchange on the stand, Toay asked Lussier whether he was a part of an altercation the night before the shooting. That reportedly involved another apartment resident. Toay suggested Lussier was going upstairs to confront that person.
Lussier denied those accusations.
Toay also questioned the couple’s credibility by bringing up their criminal history. That included Lussier's convictions for violating a domestic abuse no contact order in September and a 2019 disorderly conduct charge, as well as Decoteau’s cases for forgery, providing a false name and false report charges.
Prosecutors haven’t decided whether they will request another trial, the Clay County Attorney’s Office said. A second trial is unlikely since Hackley was found guilty on the firearm possession charge, which carries the heaviest maximum penalty, prosecutors said.
Hackley faces up to 15 years in prison for the charge.
Toay declined to comment on the verdict.