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Counselor: Fargo man showed signs of 'unspecified psychosis' prior to attack of 14-year-old

The defense is expected to argue Arthur Kollie is not criminally responsible for the death of Jupiter Paulsen. Prosecutors are likely to suggest he lied about having a mental illness to avoid punishment.

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Arthur Kollie whispers to his lawyer Eric Baumann during his trial in Cass County Court on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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FARGO — A Fargo man accused of killing a 14-year-old girl in a random attack was supposed to get further evaluation after a counselor found days before the assault he showed signs of “unspecified psychosis.”

But prosecutors appear to have suggested he faked his mental illness in order to get services and avoid punishment for the teenager's death.

Testimony in Day 5 of Arthur Prince Kollie’s trial wrapped up Wednesday, Sept. 14. Jurors were excused at noon for the rest of the day so attorneys could work on jury instructions.

Jupiter Paulsen
Jupiter Paulsen
Submitted Photo

Closing arguments in the case will be presented Thursday morning.

Kollie, 24, is charged with murder, robbery and aggravated assault in connection to the June 2021 death of Jupiter Paulsen . He faces life in prison if found guilty.

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Prosecutors argued he stabbed the girl multiple times, kicked her and strangled her the morning of June 4, 2021, in the Fargo Party City parking lot.

The attack left Jupiter brain dead, prosecutors said. She died several days later.

No motive has been disclosed in the case.

Kollie fled the crime scene when found by a sanitation worker, prosecutors said. He tried to cover up the attack by taking a shower at a gas station and throwing away his clothing and Jupiter’s belongings he took.

He also changed into clothes he stole from Walmart before trying to find a way out of the city, according to prosecutors.

The defense said Kollie bears no criminal responsibility for the crime. His attorney, Eric Baumann, is expected to argue Kollie has a mental illness that made him not understand what was reality during the attack.

If a jury finds him not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility, Kollie would be sent to a mental health institution for treatment for an unknown time.

Kollie told police he doesn’t remember the attack, though he could recall details before and after the assault, according to video played in court. He also said he did meth June 3, 2021.

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Andi Wheeler, a former Fraser counselor, testifies in the trial of Arthur Kollie in Cass County Court on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

The defense called Andi Wheeler, a counselor who did an assessment with Kollie on May 26, 2021. The purpose of the assessment was to see if he could qualify for transitional living with Fraser, a nonprofit where Wheeler previously worked.

A person must be homeless or at risk to be prioritized for the transitional living program, Wheeler testified Wednesday in court. They also must show signs of a mental illness, she said.

Based on information from Kollie and Wheeler’s colleagues, the counselor said she gave a “provisional diagnosis of psychosis.” She suggested he get therapy and further psychiatric evaluation.

Another former Fraser worker also testified she thought Kollie had hallucinations or showed signs of a mental illness.

“I just noticed him walking around and talking to someone who was not there,” said Anastasia Glasser, who worked for the nonprofit’s transitional youth services.

In cross examination by the prosecution, Wheeler acknowledged that she is not qualified to formally diagnose a person with psychosis. The “provisional” assessment was a “best guess,” she said, adding there wasn’t enough information to determine what type of psychosis he had.

She also said she herself didn’t witness any signs of psychosis when she met with Kollie.

Glasser acknowledged she can’t diagnose a person, though she comes in contact with people who experience mental health issues.

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MORE TRIAL COVERAGE
A medical examiner also took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Arthur Kollie and testified that Jupiter Paulsen died from strangulation. Kollie is charged with murder, robbery and aggravated assault in connection to the 14-year-old's death last year.

Prosecutors appear to be lining up arguments that Kollie lied about having a mental illness. A State Hospital psychologist determined Kollie showed signs of maligning, meaning he exaggerated or lied about a mental illness, prosecutor Ryan Younggren said Tuesday.

The prosecution wasn’t allowed to call the psychologist since that assessment was done months after the attack. North Dakota court rules prevent prosecutors from calling an expert witness if the defense doesn’t do the same.

Baumann said he didn’t plan to call any experts.

That also banned Wheeler from testifying to what others noticed in Kollie, since it is considered hearsay. She would have been able to do so if she was called as an expert.

Her report was not allowed to be reviewed by jurors for the same reason.

Prosecutors asked Wheeler if people make up a mental illness to get services from Fraser, which she said was possible. Wheeler also testified that she didn’t know Kollie didn’t have long-term housing when he applied for the transitional living program.

Prosecutors noted Kollie had an apartment paid for by his sister, Princess Harris.

Harris, who was called by the defense, testified that Kollie had a problem with alcohol and sometimes became angry. At times while living with her and their mother, he would “act up and want to fight,” Harris said.

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Juan Sillas-Rocha is allegedly responsible for dozens of deaths and leading a drug ring that sent meth, cocaine and marijuana to the Red River Valley.

Harris said she noticed Kollie talking to himself in the last two years and saying people were trying to kill him. Drinking and doing drugs made his behavior worse, she said.

“There was no one trying to kill him,” she said. “It was just something he was seeing.”

The family begged Kollie to get help, but he refused, Harris said. She said she didn’t know his state of mind at the time of the attack or the months leading up to it.

Kollie was born in Liberia and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 6 years old, Harris said. Raised by a single-mother, Harris described their childhood as difficult, but said her relationship with her brother was good.

The family moved from Philadelphia to Fargo in 2016 for a better life, she said.

The defense tried to get the case dismissed after suggesting Jupiter died because her family took her off life support. Doctors testified the cause of death was strangulation due to lack of oxygen to the brain.

Jupiter was declared brain dead before her family took her off life support, doctors said.

Judge John Irby denied the motion for acquittal.

After closing arguments Thursday, the jury will be given the case and decide whether Kollie intentionally and willfully killed Jupiter or if he was in a mental state that prevented him from understanding what he was doing and knowing it was wrong.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSFARGO
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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