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Judge lets Fargo man withdraw pleas in killing of 14-year-old

“I wasn’t Arthur that time,” Arthur Prince Kollie said as he stuttered through his testimony. “I was Prince.”

011922.N.FF.TEENMURDER
Arthur Prince Kollie appears Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Cass County District Court to withdraw his guilty pleas in the killing of Jupiter Paulsen, 14.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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FARGO — A Fargo man has been allowed to withdraw his pleas in the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl, saying a different personality took over when he entered the pleas.

Cass County District Judge John Irby accepted on Tuesday, Jan. 18, a motion from 23-year-old Arthur Prince Kollie to withdraw his Alford pleas to charges of murder, robbery and aggravated assault.

An Alford plea means the defendant maintains his innocence but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to reach a conviction.

Kollie previously entered his pleas in October, but he said Tuesday in court that he didn’t understand what it meant to enter the pleas.

He also said he suffers from severe mental illness, including depression and anxiety. He claimed he hears voices in his head, and he wasn’t himself the day he entered the Alford pleas. Kollie said he is innocent but felt no one would help him.

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He said he entered the pleas because he wanted to get help for his mental illness and thought that could happen in prison. He said that was a mistake.

“I wasn’t Arthur that time,” he said as he stuttered through his testimony. “I was Prince.”

Jupiter Paulsen mug.jpg
Jupiter Paulsen.
Photo provided by family

Kollie has been in jail since June 4, the day 14-year-old Jupiter Paulsen was found with multiple stab wounds in the parking lot of Party City at 4340 13th Ave. S.W. The teenager was skateboarding from her father’s house to her mother’s home when she was attacked, according to court documents.

Surveillance footage showed Jupiter walking in the parking lot of Party City at about 6:30 a.m., according to October testimony from Fargo Police Detective Mark Voigtschild. A man later identified as Kollie assaulted Jupiter for nearly 30 minutes and stabbed her more than 20 times, according to court documents.

He ran when a sanitation worker showed up, Voigtschild said. Despite lifesaving efforts, Jupiter died several days later at a hospital.

After hearing evidence about footage that captured Kollie allegedly throwing away his clothing, Jupiter’s belongings and a knife, Kollie said during the October hearing he didn’t know what happened and he wanted to get help.

Kollie entered not guilty pleas at that point, but came back about 30 minutes later and said he wanted to plead guilty, against his former attorney’s advice.

At Tuesday's hearing, Eric Baumann, an attorney appointed earlier this month to defend Kollie, argued his client didn’t understand the consequences of pleading guilty. Kollie wanted to ask a question about what would happen if he pleaded guilty, but his previous attorney told him to stop during the previous hearings.

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Baumann also questioned whether Kollie’s mental health could impact his competency, despite an evaluation that found him fit to stand trial.

The same evaluation found Kollie was “highly suggestive for malingering,” meaning doctors believe he was exaggerating his mental illness, prosecutor Ryan Younggren said. He suggested Kollie doesn’t have a “fair and just reason” to withdraw his pleas, but simply has realized he could go to prison for the rest of his life.

Life in prison is the maximum sentence for murder. If convicted, Kollie would have to spend at least four years in prison since he allegedly used a weapon in the stabbing.

Younggren said allowing Kollie to withdraw the pleas would be a waste of court resources.

“I would submit that a defendant wanting a trial is not a waste of court resources,” Baumann said.

Jupiter’s father, Robert Paulsen, watched the hour-long hearing. Afterward, Paulsen told The Forum he believed Kollie was lying.

At times, Kollie smiled in court, which angered Paulsen.

The father said he just wants justice for his daughter. He understands he can’t do anything about the judge’s decision, but he said Kollie is prolonging the inevitable.

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“It angers me the longer it is dragged out,” Paulsen said. “They just need to stop playing games.”

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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