PROCTOR, Minn.-A northeast Minnesota man was sentenced Friday to more than 16 years in prison for unloading an AR-15 in the direction of his girlfriend during a domestic dispute in November 2016.
Rusty George Kallis, 41, of Proctor pleaded guilty in December to a charge of attempted premeditated first-degree murder. He admitted that he threatened his girlfriend and two children with the firearm before firing off more than three-dozen rounds at the woman, missing her but striking a house across the street, and later pointing the weapon at a neighbor.
Kallis was facing trial on 10 felony charges, with jury selection entering its second day, when he entered the plea on Dec. 13.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Theresa Neo sentenced Kallis to 200 months in prison under the terms of a plea agreement reached with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office.
Prosecutor Rebekka Stumme told the court Friday that the victims did not wish to make any formal statements before sentencing.
"We can all trust that the impact this incident has had on the victims is tremendous, and is probably impossible to put into words," she said. "It is beyond fortunate that no one was injured or killed."
Kallis briefly addressed the court before receiving his sentence, stating: "I regret my actions. I have to live with it for the rest of my life."
Defense attorney J.D. Schmid described a rough life for his client, starting with abuse he endured as a young child. He told the judge that "no matter what, (Kallis) can never make up for the hurt he caused that night."
However, he remained steadfast in his argument that Kallis never had any intention of trying to kill his girlfriend. Schmid said his client accepted the last-minute plea agreement in large part to spare the victims the need to testify and endure a trial.
"I firmly believe he is innocent of the charge of attempted murder," Schmid said.
But Neo took issue with that assertion.
"When you empty a weapon at someone as they are running away, what else can that be?" the judge asked.
Neo acknowledged Kallis' tough upbringing, calling it "horrible. But she told him that he needs to get help for the "violence that emanates from you."
"A lot of other people have mental health or chemical dependency issues, but they don't do what you did," Neo said. "They don't abuse and terrorize others. You were never able to change that destructive path you were on."
Kallis must serve at least two-thirds of the sentence - a little more than 11 years - before he is eligible for supervised release.
According to court documents:
The incident started on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2016, at the couple's residence on the 100 block of Fifth Street in Proctor.
The girlfriend reported that she and Kallis had been in an argument the night before and that she and the children had left the house for several hours, coming home to find Kallis apparently intoxicated and passed out. She said he woke up and began insulting her.
The woman said she was trying to leave with the children when Kallis went to the garage and returned with the AR-15, which was normally kept in a secure location inside the house. She said he pointed the weapon at her and began threatening her.
The children were able to leave the residence, seeking out safety at a nearby bar and calling 911. However, the girlfriend reported that Kallis ordered her to stay, at one point firing several rounds from the weapon into the kitchen floor.
At some point, Kallis left the room and the victim took the opportunity to flee from the back door. The woman said she could hear gunfire behind her as she ran to a neighbor's house for safety.
Kallis was located and taken into custody a few blocks away at Midway Avenue and Brook Street in Duluth. A nearby resident called 911 to report that she had been outside when a man came by, pointed a firearm at her and told her to go inside or he would shoot her.
Investigators said they recovered an AR-15 in the area and conducted a sweep of the crime scene, finding 38 shell casings inside and outside the residence. A pickup truck in the driveway was found with 19 bullet holes. A residence across the street, where a family was home watching television, was struck twice.