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Former Superior councilor gets probation for pointing gun at ex-fiancee

Graham Franklin Garfield

A former Superior City Councilor who pointed a loaded gun at his fiancee while intoxicated will spend two years on probation and 30 days in jail, but has the chance to avoid a felony conviction.

Graham Franklin Garfield, 27, pleaded no contest Monday in Douglas County Circuit Court to one felony count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor charges of possession of a firearm while intoxicated and disorderly conduct use of a dangerous weapon, all domestic abuse charges. A misdemeanor count of domestic abuse pointing a firearm at another was dismissed.

The charges stemmed from an April 20, 2017, incident days after Garfield was re-elected to a second term representing Superior's 6th District. Authorities said that while he was intoxicated, he pointed a gun that police later found to be loaded at his fiancee, then drove to Pattison Park where he was arrested.

Garfield resigned his council position May 2, 2017, after calls from the public and Mayor Jim Paine to step down.

Judge Kelly Thimm agreed to a joint sentencing recommendation offered by District Attorney Mark Fruehauf and Garfield's attorney, Chris Gramstrup.

Garfield was sentenced to two years of probation and 30 days jail for the misdemeanor charges. He was ordered to pay $2,350.91 restitution, a $100 fine and court fees. Huber work release was granted.

A four-year deferred conviction agreement was entered on the felony count. If Garfield complies with probation, remains law abiding and successfully completes the agreement, the charge would be reduced to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

"He's going to have three convictions at the end of this, regardless," Fruehauf said. "It's a question of whether one will be a felony or not."

Fruehauf said the Superior man is under a lifetime prohibition from possessing a firearm.

"There's a federal code that calls for forfeiture of gun rights based on convictions for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence," Fruehauf said. "It's permanent."

Garfield also pleaded no contest to a first offense operating while intoxicated charge. His driver's license was revoked for six months, and he was ordered to pay a fine of $811 and undergo an alcohol assessment. One count of first offense operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration was dismissed.

Prior to sentencing his former fiancee, Kara Schmidt, gave a victim impact statement.

She spoke of scrambling to call friends and family as news of Garfield's arrest hit social media and airwaves, all while reeling from the incident herself.

"I was in a race against breaking news," Schmidt said.

She told the court she was left in charge of canceling wedding vendors and their honeymoon tickets to Italy and felt panic attacks at the sight of mail trucks, due to Garfield's job with the U.S. Postal Service. She moved to the Twin Cities, but panic attacks persisted.

"Four hundred thirty-one days later, I'm still discovering the ways this crime has hurt me," Schmidt said.

Garfield offered apologies to Schmidt, family, friends, the community, police and court officers. The single largest contributor to the incident, he said, was an unaddressed problem with alcohol.

Thimm appreciated Schmidt's impact statement, saying it pulled at his heartstrings.

"She is a survivor, not a victim," the judge said.

He agreed the recommended sentence was fair, reasonable and appropriate. One thing it can't do, Fruehauf said, is erase the trauma.

"I can make her whole financially, I mean, restitution is a part of it," the district attorney said. "I can get her paid back, but I can never return her to the state of mind she was in before this all happened."