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Northwest Minnesota man sentenced for shooting mother of his children

Phoutthasa Prathane, 36, was given the sentence after pleading guilty to attempted murder and burglary charges.

Prathane, Phoutthasa.jpg
Phoutthasa Prathane.
Otter Tail County Jail photo
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FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — A Warroad man who shot his ex-girlfriend because he couldn’t see their children was sentenced to about 15 years in prison on Monday, June 13.

Otter Tail County Judge Sharon Benson handed down the sentence to Phoutthasa Prathane, 36, after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and burglary charges. The sentence, agreed to by both the defense and prosecutors, came after Phonethip "Thip" Prathane and her family testified about how a cycle of domestic violence and the shooting continues to impact their lives.

Thip Prathane, the woman Phoutthasa Prathane shot three times on April 10, noted her ex left permanent marks on her as she testified from a wheelchair that she was in because of the shooting.

“I know when you get out, I’ll never be free from you,” Thip Prathane said. “No matter what, you will leave your demon embedded in our family.”

The Prathanes have six children together, according to a criminal complaint. They had been together for 10 years but were not married.

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Thip Prathane and the children fled the family's home in Warroad in October and went to her mother's home in Pelican Rapids because the father had become abusive, court documents alleged.

Despite the woman having a restraining order against her ex, Phoutthasa Prathane broke into Thip Prathane's mother's home, court documents alleged.

Thip Prathane's mother tried to shield her from the ex, but Phoutthasa Prathane pushed the mother away before shooting, according to court documents.

Thip and Phoutthasa Prathane's children were playing in the basement at the time of the shooting, court documents said.

People who experience domestic violence often do not leave their abusers and get restraining orders, prosecutor Michelle Eldien said. Thip Prathane did all of the right things to get out of the relationship, but that seemed to escalate Phoutthasa Prathane's behavior to a "homicidal level," Eldien said.

The prosecutor called Phoutthasa Prathane a significant danger to society, noting his history of domestic violence with multiple people.

One of their children, whose statement was read by a support person on her behalf, said the courts should have intervened a long time ago.

“Do you know how many times the cops were called and he got away with things like this?” the child asked. “He was with my mom for 8 years, and daily he would hurt my mom. What about the punishment for all of those things? What if he gets out and does it again?”

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The family asked he be put in prison for as long as possible, with the child asking he never be released from prison.

“I want him to rot in prison,” the child said. “He doesn’t deserve another chance, and we can’t trust him with another chance.”

Phoutthasa Prathane faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but Minnesota guidelines put the sentence in this case at 183 months.

The defendant fidgeted at times, wiped away tears and breathed heavily during the sentencing hearing. He asked for water twice from a guard and made derogatory remarks toward one of his ex's family members.

In a lengthy, sometimes rambling statement, Phoutthasa Prathane noted he came to the prosecutor's office seeking a deal instead of dragging the process out, adding he probably could have gotten less time.

He said the only victims in this situation are his children, adding they won't get to see their father.

“I guess as a man, your honor, we could sit here and point the fingers all day,” he said. “It’s just the blame game.”

Suggesting that he was being sent to prison to set an example for domestic violence, Phoutthasa Prathane said all he wanted to do was see his children.

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“You know what, I’ll be the bad guy," he said. "People need a bad guy to point the finger at. But I’m the bad guy with a good heart.”

He also said the mother of his ex opened his eyes, noting she was a good mother for shielding Thip Prathane. He claimed his family doesn't need to fear him, asked them to move on and "be the best you can be."

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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