The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 29, 2013

Most charges dropped in kidnapping case

By Dan Linehan
The Free Press

MANKATO — A St. Peter man accused of kidnapping and assaulting his former girlfriend last March had those charges dismissed in a plea agreement Tuesday, though he did plead guilty to threatening the woman's mother.

Nielsen Francis Ove, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of making terroristic threats, a felony.

His attorney, Calvin Johnson, said the charge resulted from Ove calling his girlfriend's mother.

"The mom had reported that he had called her, upset, and had said disparaging remarks and that upset her and she felt threatened," Johnson said.

As for the seven dismissed charges, all felonies, Johnson said the victim never intended for these charges to be filed and did not even seek a no-contact order.

"She said the police had manipulated her and blown this way out of proportion," Johnson said.

Police said at the time that the incident happened on a Sunday morning when Ove repeatedly called the woman, who was staying at a friend's house. He allegedly showed up at the house sometime after 5:30 a.m. and started pounding on the windows, police said.

When the woman came outside to talk, he allegedly pulled her in the car and drove around for what she estimated to be an hour while he repeatedly hit her in the head, face, left leg and ribs, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said Ove also threatened to stab her and stun her with a stun gun. The criminal complaint said she escaped the car and then called police.

But Johnson said it didn't happen that way. For example, he said she did not even call the police. He said police learned about the alleged assault from the woman's mother after an unrelated medical incident.

"It was nothing related to the case at all," he said.

A phone message left at about 4 p.m. with the prosecuting attorney was not returned. Without that account, it is difficult to fully reconcile the law enforcement account at the time -- that a woman was kidnapped, beaten and threatened with murder -- with the dropped charges.

Johnson said the charges were dropped largely because there wasn't enough evidence to convict him.

"I look at it in terms of, did they really have the horsepower to get a conviction? I don't know that they did," he said.

Johnson said the terroristic threats charge should be punished by probation, according to sentencing guidelines.

"Today's plea really is a good indication of what this case was really about," he said. "The fact that all of the charges brought against him concerning this young lady were dismissed speaks for itself."