The law was looking for Arthur Prince Kollie. But, having given him multiple chances to turn his life around while on probation, the law didn’t find Kollie in time.
North Dakota judges repeatedly granted Kollie probation over the past four years. And despite the trust placed in him, Kollie repeatedly showed that trust was misplaced.
In effect, the judges gambled that Kollie would break from his troubled past, which included frequent encounters with police and a history of violent, reckless behavior.
It appears that Jupiter Paulsen, a 14-year-old Fargo girl who was skateboarding to her mother’s house on the morning of June 4, paid an awful price for that bet. She was strangled and stabbed more than 20 times in an assault that lasted 20 minutes, according to police.
She died four days later.
Kollie has been charged with murder, robbery and aggravated assault in connection with the girl’s death.
His record of violent crime began with a conviction for assaulting a corrections officer in 2017 while he was held in the Youth Corrections Center in Mandan.
At the time of the attack on Jupiter Paulsen, Kollie was free on supervised probation — although probation officials and police were searching for him for probation violations.
Just days before the fatal assault, on June 1, Kollie was arrested on a charge involving a bar fight in a downtown Fargo bar. He also was charged with resisting police officers.
After this incident, authorities went looking for Kollie. But he found Jupiter Paulsen, according to court documents, before they found him.
There were more red flags.
Earlier this year, in January, Kollie was given probation yet again, for a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass for refusing to leave a convenience store when asked to leave.
A month before, in December 2020, Kollie was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm within city limits. He fired a shot in his Fargo apartment while intoxicated, according to police.
This is the man — 22 years old with a lengthy criminal history and no permanent address — who was allowed to walk the streets of Fargo.
This is the man who, having been placed on probation multiple times, took the life of a 14-year-old girl in a senseless attack, according to court documents.
This is what can happen when the criminal justice system fails. And in this case, it failed repeatedly.
We understand that North Dakota is moving away from incarceration with a greater focus on rehabilitation. That’s proper. We shouldn’t be routinely locking away nonviolent offenders.
But we have to use our jails and prisons to keep dangerous criminals off the streets. If Kollie would have been confined and given addiction and mental health counseling, would his troubled life have taken a different path?
It’s true that Kollie’s criminal past didn’t give a clear sign that his violent tendencies could escalate dramatically. But he gave plenty of warning signs as he continued to offend after assaulting the corrections officer: being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, discharging a gun in an apartment while intoxicated, getting in a bar fight, resisting officers.
Yet, in most cases, judges kept suspending most of Kollie’s sentences and releasing him on probation. And Kollie responded by making a mockery of his repeated probations, which are predicated on maintaining good behavior as the condition of avoiding incarceration.
“I don’t know if this could have been prevented,” said Pat Bohn, director of North Dakota Parole and Probation. Bohn and his staff have a difficult job. Each probation officer oversees more than 50 convicts.
But Jupiter Paulsen’s death could have been prevented if the criminal justice system had simply paid more attention to her accused killer’s increasingly volatile behavior — and taken action sooner.
By the time authorities went looking for Kollie, after the bar fight days before the fatal assault, they couldn’t find him in time.
Now an innocent girl won’t see her 15th birthday and her family mourns. That’s not only a tragedy. It’s an outrage.