— Dustin Murilla told a judge he never meant to leave another man to die along a dark, wooded trail.
Then he agreed a jury could decide otherwise after hearing he used a tire iron to force boxer shorts down his victim’s throat.
Using an Alford plea, which allows someone to accept a plea offer from prosecutors without admitting guilt, Murilla pleaded guilty this week to attempted second-degree murder.
In exchange for his plea in Blue Earth County District Court, several other felony charges, including attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and assault were dismissed.
Murilla is facing 15 years in prison when he is sentenced in January.
Murilla admitted there was enough evidence to show he was with Joshua Jeno, an Owatonna man he had recently met in the Mankato area, and smoking methamphetamine on July 8. They were at Wildwood County Park when an argument started and Murilla assaulted Jeno with a flashlight.
He said he tied Jeno up and brought him to a secluded spot in South Bend Township because he didn’t want Jeno to call police. Murilla was already on probation for assaulting a man at a Mankato apartment complex in April and using a 9mm semi-automatic pistol to shoot at another man in a New Ulm park in September 2009. He was awaiting sentencing for the Mankato assault when he was arrested for the attempted murder charges.
Jeno told police Murilla drove him to a location known as the “Stone Cut” off Blue Earth County Road 69 and dragged him into the woods. Murilla beat Jeno with a tire iron and forced a pair of boxer shorts down his throat while he was hog tied, Jeno reported. When Jeno managed to spit the shorts out, Murilla used the tire iron to force them back down his throat.