A Westhope man says he was carrying out the wishes of a friend by killing him in February of this year.
That's what attorneys in the murder case against Timothy Mundt said in court today, as Mundt entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge.
Mundt had been facing up to life in prison for a Class Double-A Murder charge, but entered a guilty plea to a Class-A Murder charge with a 20 year maximum sentence.
(Gail Kirk, Victim's Father) "I loved him dearly. Jessie I love you and someday I hope to see you again. And that's from the entire family."
That's how Jesse Kirk's father summed up the agony his family has suffered since his son was shot and killed in February in Westhope. In Northeast District Court today, prosecution and defense attorneys presented a plea agreement to avoid a trial for 49-year-old Timothy Mundt of Westhope. The deal reduces the charge from Class Double A Murder to Class A Murder, dropping the maximum sentence from life to 20 years. Prosecutor Swain Benson says Mundt admitted shooting Kirk in the head with a rifle - but did so at the end of a night of drinking where Kirk had said he wanted to kill himself but could not do it himself.
(Swain Benson, Bottineau County State's Attorney) "Mr. Mundt had a firearm in his house and gave him the rifle but that ultimately Jesse Kirk was unable to do it. And so Mr. Mundt indicated that at the conclusion of the evening that Mr. Mundt pulled the trigger, I guess helping his friend in his rationale."
Defense attorney William Hartl pointed out to the court that assisted suicide is a lesser crime in North Dakota, but said his client did not want to put people through a trial.
(William Hartl, Defense Attorney) "Under North Dakota law assisted suicide is a Class C Felony maximum penalty is five years in jail."
The prosecutor said the case that started as a missing persons call when Kirk had not been seen for two days, turned into a murder investigation quickly when Kirk's body was found in the bed of Mundt's truck.
(Swain Benson, Bottineau County State's Attorney) "There was blood and body tissue in the house of Mr. Mundt, the pickup was located at Mr. Mundt's house. There was evidence the body had been drug from the house to the pickup."
Mundt first denied knowing how the body ended up in his truck, but after investigators told him Kirk had been shot in the head, Mundt admitted shooting his friend at his friend's request.
(Gail Kirk, Victim's Father) "I though Tim Mundt was my friend but I guess I found out different. He could have come to I that night before he made the decision to pull the trigger and told me what was going on."
In the end, Judge Michael Sturdevant agreed to the deal and sentenced Mundt to 20 years in prison, with 7 and a half years suspended. In Bottineau, Jim Olson, KX News.
Mundt was given credit for the seven months he's been in jail since the killing, meaning he has to spend about 12 years in prison before being released on a five-year probation.