By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Bobann Jeno stepped up to the courtroom microphone behind Dustin Murilla and struggled to find the words to describe how Murilla’s violent actions harmed her son.
Joshua Jeno was also at the Blue Earth County Justice Center Tuesday but couldn’t find the courage to enter the courtroom and face Murilla, Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Steven Kelm said.
It’s only been about six months since Murilla assaulted Joshua Jeno at a park between Eagle Lake and St. Clair, tied him up, drove him to Southbend Township, dragged him to a woods by the “Stone Cut,” smashed him in the head with a car jack and used a tire iron to force boxer shorts down his throat.
“Josh is a different person,” Bobann Jeno told Blue Earth County District Court Judge Krista Jass before Murilla was sentenced for attempted second-degree murder. “I’m sorry this all happened, but Josh is not the same person he used to be.”
Jass followed a plea agreement reached in November by sentencing Dustin Murilla, 23, to 183 months in prison for second-degree attempted murder. He could serve 61 months of that sentence on supervised release if he doesn’t have any violations in prison. Jass also gave Murilla credit for 184 days he’s served in jail since his July 8 arrest.
Jeno, who lives in Owatonna, was found bleeding on the side of a road by a passerby. Jeno told investigators he had been smoking methamphetamine with Murilla at Wildwood County Park before Murilla assaulted him and used his car to take him to Southbend Township. Murilla was driving Jeno’s car when he was arrested in Mankato later that night.
During his Nov. 5 plea hearing, Murilla said he didn’t remember what happened, but he understood enough evidence existed for a jury to find him guilty. Murilla was already on probation for assaulting a man at a Mankato apartment complex in April and shooting at another man in a New Ulm park with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in 2009.
Murilla had told the probation officer preparing his pre-sentence investigation that he planned to use prison programs to improve himself so his life will be better when he gets out in about 10 years. Jass said that was a positive thing.
“Your actions in this case toward the victim were brutal and viscous,” Jass said. “I sincerely hope that’s sufficient time for you to make the changes you need.”
Murilla’s family was in the courtroom. His sisters, Amber Murilla and Jessica Fleck, said the sentence was “ridiculous.” They said there was more to the story that Jeno hadn’t told investigators.
“Everyone involved was using drugs,” Fleck said. “It was all about drugs and nobody could get their story straight. It’s truly sad but, when drugs get involved, that’s what happens.”