The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 22, 2013

Former Security Hospital inmate sentenced to prison for assaults

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

ST PETER — A former St. Peter Regional Treatment Center inmate, who pleaded guilty last month to assaulting two security officers and a nurse during three separate incidents, was sentenced to about three years in prison.

Michael John Paul, 26, was sent to the maximum security prison in Oak Heights after he pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault and two counts of fourth-degree assault, all felonies, on Dec. 11. During his sentencing hearing Tuesday, he told Nicollet County District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel he believes he’s being sent to prison due to changes that have been made to the way inmates are treated at the Treatment Center.

Paul was placed in the center’s Security Hospital after he was found to be mentally ill and dangerous. Escapes, treatment concerns, administrative and staff turnover, structural problems and staff injuries have resulted in numerous investigations and changes at the facility.

“The hospital doesn’t have as much power to control people like that, which is why they wanted me to go to prison,” Paul said.

Two of the incidents at the Security Hospital took place on Feb. 24 and 25, but the assault charges weren’t filed until September. He was placed in seclusion for two days after he kneed one security officer and attempted to stab another with a pen. While in seclusion, he assaulted a nurse when she brought him medication.

Another assault charge was filed after he punched a security officer in the face on Oct. 24.

The plea agreement in December reduced two of the charges and set his prison sentence for all charges at 50 months. He could be placed on supervised release in about 33 months with credit for good time and time he has already served in jail.

Paul also wanted credit for the time he was confined at the Security Hospital between the February incidents and when the charges for those incidents were filed in October. Krehbiel said previous appeals court rulings only allowed her to give him credit for time he was in solitary confinement.

“I was locked up and unable to leave,” Paul said. “If I knew that were the case I would have asked to have been locked up (in jail) right away. That would have resulted in 11 months being served already.”