Judge denies reduced sentence for man who killed 4 family members in 1992 | Bismarck

A judge has suspended the life sentences of a man who pleaded guilty as a teenager to the shooting deaths of four family members in 1992, saying a law regarding sentence reductions came into effect after Michael Neugebauer’s sentence was final and cannot be applied retroactively.

South Central District Judge Bobbi Weiler, in a 22-page order filed Wednesday, also noted that the nature of Neugebauer’s offense “weighs heavily against a reduced sentence.”

Neugebauer was 15 when he shot dead his father, mother, sister and brother at the family home in the Menoken region east of Bismarck. He pleaded guilty to one count of murder in 1993, and in early 1994 pleaded guilty to the other three counts. He was sentenced to life in prison on each count.

Neugebauer filed a motion for reduced sentence in October 2020. A hearing date was set, but Weiler issued an order that month denying the motion and canceling the hearing. Neugebauer appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court erred in dismissing the motion without a hearing. The judges agreed with Neugebauer and a hearing was held last March.

People also read…

Weiler ruled Neugebauer’s sentences final 30 days after they were handed down in late 1993 and early 1994 because he did not appeal. The state law that deals with sentence reductions for juveniles convicted as adults only went into effect in August 2017 and cannot be applied retroactively, the judge said.

Steve Balaban, the attorney who represented Neugebauer at the March hearing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weiler in her order said Neugebauer’s motion “must be dismissed,” but she also addressed a number of other factors outlined in state law “if the Supreme Court disagrees with the tribunal”.

The nature of the offense was “extremely horrific and inconceivable”, the judge wrote, saying it weighed heavily against a reduced sentence. Neugebauer retrieved a ranged weapon, loaded it, brought extra ammunition and reloaded the weapon during the killings, the judge said.

“He shot each victim at least twice, including shooting his mother in the head at close range or by contact of the gun against her head,” Weiler wrote.

Certain factors – his character, his reaction to treatment and the fact that he is unlikely to reoffend – worked in Neugebauer’s favor, but were not outweighed by the harm caused, the planning of the acts and his continued blame on the criminal justice system, according to Weiller.

“He admits to having committed the murders, but states that it would not have happened if the police and others had stopped his father from abusing him,” she wrote. “Neugebauer cannot be fully rehabilitated until he admits and takes responsibility for the entire crime and his actions.”

Background to the case

At the March hearing, Neugebauer said he endured years of abuse from his father and sister. On the day of the murders, he obtained a gun from his grandmother’s house, which was in the same farmyard.

He loaded it up and went back to get some personal effects in his room. His mother tried to stop him, and once he was inside, the family members wouldn’t let him out. His dad saw the gun and said he was going to get one too.

“I just wanted to get out. I couldn’t get out,” Neugebauer said. “He turned around and I fired.”

After shooting his father, “everything was like looking down a tunnel, instantly,” Neugebauer said.

His sister appeared and he shot her “almost by reflex”. His mother grabbed him and the shot went off. He chased his mother outside and shot her, then came back into the house. He reloaded the gun and shot his brother twice.

He tried to help his brother in vain. He moved his mother’s body from the front yard, then drove west. He spent the night by the river, picked up his girlfriend the next morning and left for Florida, he testified.

None of this was planned, he says.

” I wanted to leave. Full stop,” he testified.

Law enforcement caught up with Neugebauer in Florida a few weeks later.

Nuegebauer in five years can again ask the court for a reduced sentence. If that’s denied, he can make a final petition five years later, according to Weiler’s document.

Contact Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or [email protected]

Comments are closed.