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Judge rules that 2nd-degree murder charge remain in November stabbing case
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Judge rules that 2nd-degree murder charge remain in November stabbing case

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A Lincoln County district judge has upheld a lower court’s ruling in the case against Harlie E. Saathoff.

District Judge Richard Birch overruled a plea in abatement for Saathoff, who is charged with second-degree murder and the use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony in the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old North Platte man on Nov. 12.

Saathoff, 20, is scheduled for arraignment on the charges Monday in District Court.

Saathoff’s attorney, Robert Lindemeier, filed the plea after County Judge Kent Turnbull sent the case to district court.

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Lindemeier argued that the stabbing and result was unintentional and does not meet the standards for second-degree murder

Turnbull took the case under advisement after a contested preliminary hearing Dec. 28. He stated in a written opinion that the county attorney’s office provided enough evidence for the murder count to remain rather than be reduced to a charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Birch agreed with that ruling in an opinion that was filed Wednesday.

“The evidence presented at the preliminary hearing centered primarily on the defendant’s state of mind, and whether the victim was stabbed intentionally or accidentally,” Birch wrote. “Certainly, the evidence is subject to two interpretations. However, it is not the purpose of the preliminary hearing to resolve that conflict, or even to determine which interpretation is more likely.

“Rather, the purpose is only to determine whether there is direct or circumstantial evidence that if believed establishes probable cause that the defendant committed the offenses that the county attorney chose to charge.”

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