Fargo man asks to withdraw guilty plea in fatal stabbing of 14-year-old girl
Arthur Kollie said the Alford plea was not voluntary, and he didn't understand the consequences of his actions.
Prosecutors asked Cass County Judge John Irby in a motion filed Tuesday, Dec. 28, to deny Arthur Prince Kollie’s request to withdraw his Alford pleas to murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Kollie is accused of stabbing Jupiter Paulsen multiple times shortly before 7 a.m. June 4 in the parking lot of 4340 13th Ave. SW in Fargo.
In a motion to withdraw the pleas filed Nov. 29, Kollie’s then-attorney Nicholas Thornton said Kollie did not understand what the Alford pleas meant for him. Kollie also claims he didn’t enter the pleas voluntarily and that Thornton didn’t “properly assist and help him in the process.”
Thornton also filed a motion the same day to withdraw as Kollie’s counsel at the request of his client. That motion was approved Dec. 21, and another attorney was not appointed as of Tuesday.
An Alford plea is a type of guilty plea that allows a defendant to maintain his innocence, but the defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence to be convicted by a jury.
Kollie initially entered not guilty pleas after an Oct. 25 hearing. That's when Fargo Police Detective Mark Voigtschild detailed evidence gathered in the case.
Voigtschild said the attack on Jupiter lasted nearly 30 minutes, and Kollie allegedly fled after a sanitation worker arrived at the scene around 6:58 a.m.
Jupiter died at Sanford Medical Center four days after the incident due to asphyxiation by strangulation complicated by multiple sharp-force injuries, Voigtschild said. She was stabbed more than 20 times, according to court documents.
Voigtschild described surveillance footage that allegedly showed Kollie walking around the area in an apparent attempt to ditch bloodstained clothing at different locations. Kollie apparently took a shower at a gas station before walking to Walmart on 13th Avenue, Voigtschild said.
Kollie took clothes off a Walmart rack without paying for them and changed in a bathroom, according to court documents. Officers found his bloodstained pants and shoes in the bathroom, as well as Jupiter’s backpacks, her ID, a bloodstained shirt and knife in dumpsters near The Home Depot, Voigtschild said.
Kollie was arrested June 4 in downtown Fargo. He told police he didn’t remember attacking Jupiter but said he used meth the day before, according to court documents.
After Voigtschild wrapped up his testimony during the Oct. 25 hearing, Kollie said he didn’t know what happened, he wanted to get help and that “I’m just tired.” Thornton interrupted Kollie before the defendant entered not guilty pleas.
Less than an hour later and after meeting with Thornton out of court, Kollie reappeared in Cass County court, asking to plead guilty.
“He really would like to get on his way to getting some mental health treatment, and the best mechanism for that is for him to change his plea and get on to prison as quickly as possible, if that’s what the court ultimately decides,” Thornton said, according to a transcript from the plea hearing filed in court.
A defendant can withdraw a guilty plea if there is a “fair and just reason” to do so and the prosecution still has the ability to proceed with a trial. A presentencing investigation had not been completed at the time Thorton filed his motions.
Sentencing is slated for Feb. 28. The murder charge carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without parole.
Kollie understood the consequences of entering the Alford pleas, and he did so voluntarily, the Cass County State’s Attorney Office said in its motion. Transcripts show Irby informed Kollie of the maximum penalty in the case asked whether the pleas were voluntary, and if the defendant understood that he was giving up certain rights, including a jury trial. Irby also found no issues with Kollie’s ability to proceed in the case, according to the transcripts.
Prosecutors asserted Thornton properly helped Kollie understand the proceedings in pleading guilty, adding the defense’s motion doesn’t state how Thornton was ineffective in advising his client.
A motion hearing to determine if Kollie can withdraw his plea is scheduled for Jan. 18.