Sterling man pleads to burglary, assault

Attempted murder charge reduced

Posted: Sunday, September 09, 2001

An attempted first-degree murder charge against a Sterling man was dismissed Friday in return for his no-contest pleas to first-degree burglary and third-degree assault.

Philip M. Barnholdt, 44, is to be sentenced Dec. 7 in Kenai Superior Court.

Barnholdt was accused of trying to kill Stanley Jeffers and of threatening three others in Sterling on April 24. According to Alaska State Troopers reports, Jeffers alleged that Barnholdt came to his home before dawn and called him to come out. Jeffers opened the door, saw that Barnholdt had a gun and shut the door. One shot allegedly was fired at that time, and possibly two more a short time later.

Jeffers contacted troopers about 4:15 a.m. When officers arrived, Barnholdt was gone. He was arrested about six hours later at his home. He was indicted May 4 on one count of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of third-degree assault, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree misconduct involving weapons.

Barnholdt pleaded no contest Friday to single counts of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault. Under the sentencing agreement approved Friday, the other charges will be dropped. However, Kenai Superior Court Judge Harold Brown said, information contained in the other three counts of third-degree assault will be considered verified information.

"In other words, the court is going to be able to take that conduct into account in shaping an appropriate sentence in this case," he said.

Attempted first-degree murder is an unclassified felony, subject to a jail term of five to 99 years and a fine of up to $75,000. First-degree burglary is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Third-degree assault is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Under the plea agreement, Barnholdt could receive a combined sentence of up to 15 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

"Now, part of your sentencing agreement is that there will be a five-year cap on the time to serve. In other words, I could sentence you to 15 years in jail but suspend 10 years, and the maximum amount of time that you would be required to serve would be five years," Brown said.

Barnholdt's attorney, Joe Ray Skrha, said there was no evidence of any attempted murder nor of any physical attacks on the victims. The alleged assaults were simply threats, he said.

Skrha said the sentencing agreement brings finality and justice.

"I think it's in the best interest of my client to have this matter resolved and get his life started anew," Skrha said.

The sentencing agreement does not affect a separate case in which Barnholdt is accused of attempting on Aug. 5 to smuggle tobacco into Wildwood Pretrial Facility. Barnholdt still faces charges from that case of second-degree promoting contraband and violating conditions of release.

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