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Third man pleads guilty in beating of Duluth man

The final defendant in an April 2013 beating that left a Duluth man with permanent brain damage has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Jason Michael Carlsness, 30, of Duluth pleaded guilty last week in State District Court to a felony charge of aiding an offender as an accomplice after the fact, according to court records.

Carlsness testified in the January trial of a co-defendant that he did not take part in the April 21, 2013, beating of 37-year-old Jason Alexander Lane, but that testimony was contradicted by co-

defendants Terrance Gewel Yance and Chad Loran Siegel.

In his petition to enter a guilty plea, Carlsness admitted that he was an accomplice to the crime “based upon my failure to notify law enforcement of the crime and destruction of evidence germane to the case.”

Judge Heather Sweetland scheduled a sentencing appearance for March 28.

Lane, Carlsness and Yance were all passengers in a vehicle driven by Siegel the night of the incident. When an argument broke out, Siegel stopped at an overlook along Skyline Parkway, where Lane was pulled from the vehicle and severely beaten.

 After initially leaving him on the side of the road, the defendants picked Lane up and brought him to a home in West Duluth, where they cleaned him up, and later dropped him off at a Superior home.

Lane was later admitted to the hospital, where his chances of survival were considered slim. It was later revealed that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury, and he will require near-constant supervision for the rest of his life, his brother said.

The three defendants’ accounts of the incident varied greatly, with each pointing to the others as the main aggressors. Carlsness had testified that he tried to stop the other men from assaulting Lane, but Siegel and Yance said he was actively involved in the fight.

Carlsness did, however, admit that he could have taken steps to get Lane to a hospital sooner.

All three defendants were initially charged with aiding and abetting attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of kidnapping.

Under state statute, the presumptive sentence for aiding an offender is one-half that of the maximum for the crime committed. Yance and Siegel were both convicted of first-degree assault, which carries a guideline sentence of about seven years for someone with no criminal history.

The plea agreement, however, allows both the prosecution and defense to argue for departures from sentencing guidelines. Yance and Gewel received sentences substantially higher than state guidelines.

Yance accepted a plea agreement in December, pleading guilty to only the assault charge, and is serving a 200-month prison sentence in St. Cloud. Siegel took his case to trial in January and was convicted on the assault charge, but acquitted on the other counts. He is serving a 172-month sentence, also in St. Cloud.

Carlsness testified in Siegel’s trial that he was an innocent bystander in the incident. He acknowledged that he probably wasn’t helping his case — and possibly hurting it — by testifying, but said he felt he was doing “the right thing” by telling his side of the story.