Plea deal in deputy stabbing case

IRON MOUNTAIN – A Norway man charged with stabbing a law enforcement officer at the Pine Mountain ski jumping competition last year has accepted a plea deal on a lesser charge.

Andrew Bray, 75, pleaded no contest Thursday in Dickinson County Circuit Court to one felony count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon.

Defense attorney Elizabeth LaCosse told the court that her client was entering no contest pleas instead of guilty pleas because of the potential for civil liability.

Bray had originally faced one felony count of assault with intent to murder, a charge that carries a penalty of up to life in prison. Assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Sentencing in the matter is scheduled for June 16.

Dickinson County Prosecutor Lisa Richards and LaCosse agreed that the Michigan Department of Corrections’ sentencing guidelines showed that Bray’s minimum sentence should be between 10 and 23 months. However, a sentencing agreement was not part of the plea deal.

Judge Richard Celello informed Bray that LaCosse would argue at sentencing that he should be sentenced to time already served.

Bray has been in custody at the Dickinson County Jail since the stabbing incident occurred on Feb. 10, 2013. The case has been delayed several times, due to competency examinations, motions and a change of defense attorney.

Judge Celello also pointed out that Richards would request at sentencing that the court deviate upwards from the sentencing guidelines and order Bray to serve a longer minimum sentence.

During a December hearing, Judge Celello determined that if Bray accepted a plea deal on the assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder charge, he would likely spend a minimum of five years in prison.

Judge Celello said Thursday that the preliminary sentencing finding from December was no longer in effect.

According to the criminal complaint in the case, Bray stabbed Lt. Derek Dixon of the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department in the upper back with a four-inch blade.

Bray allegedly told authorities that he had been having homicidal thoughts and had been thinking about harming a police officer for the past few days.

Dixon was treated at the scene and released. He has since resumed his duties with the sheriff’s department.

In previous court hearings, LaCosse had argued that the amount of force Bray used to stab Lt. Dixon shows that he did not intend murder. If Bray had an intent to kill, Dixon’s wound would have been deeper, she said.

LaCosse also noted on Thursday that even though Bray had a competency examination in the past, he has been taking his medications and is fully competent to accept the plea deal.