ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - Joshua Lee Holby, one of the three men charged last fall in connection with the abduction of Jasmine Block of Alexandria, entered a guilty plea Friday, Sept. 14, in Douglas County District Court.
Holby, 32, of Carlos, Minn., pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping, which is a felony-level offense. Under the guidelines and because he has no prior criminal record, Holby is expected to be sentenced to seven years, two months in prison. His sentencing hearing was set for Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Sarah Block, Jasmine's mother, said Friday that she was pleased with the guilty plea, but when it comes to hurting a child, especially her daughter, the sentence will never be enough.
"Jasmine and my family have to deal with this our whole lives," she said. "I am glad he has admitted what he's done and not fought anything. We want to move forward and until this is all done, I know for myself, I can't."
During the plea hearing, Holby took the stand and was asked a series of questions from his lawyer, Malcolm Whynott.
Holby said he understood he was pleading guilty to the kidnapping charges and that no one has promised him anything or made threats to him. He replied yes when asked if he was pleading guilty on his own free will and that he was of sound mind and not under the influence of anything that could cloud his judgment.
Whynott also went over the fact that Holby has to register as a predatory offender and that if he fails to comply with terms when released from prison, he would be incarcerated. Holby said he understood and that it did not change his guilty plea.
"Are you pleading guilty because you are?" Whynott asked.
Holby replied, "Yes."
Whynott then asked questions regarding the time from Aug. 9 to Sept. 5, 2017, when Jasmine was abducted and held against her will.
Holby said that during that span he lived in Carlos with Thomas Barker, one of the other suspects who has also pleaded guilty. In response to questions, Holby said he was aware that a person under the age of 16 was being held captive in his house for less than a month. As to how she was confined, he replied, "She was locked in a closet."
Holby was asked if the intention was to keep her confined and he answered yes.
Other questions were asked relating to what took place while she was being held, including if there were sexual acts, and Holby said yes.
Whynott asked if Holby had the girl's parental consent to hold and keep her there. "No," he said.
Holby was asked if the girl was transported at one point, and replied that she was, saying that she was "stuck in a duffle bag."
Judge Timothy Churchwell, who presided over the hearing, asked Holby a few questions before he was allowed to step down from the witness stand. The judge asked again if Holby was aware of Jasmine Block's age and if she was not free to leave. Holby replied yes to both.
Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson did not question Holby.
In July, Barker pleaded guilty to kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree with a dangerous weapon and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree causing fear of great bodily harm. All are felony-level charges.
Under the terms of an agreement between the prosecution and Barker's attorney, Barker is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Steven Powers, 21, of Mankato, faces charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment in connection with the case. He has a settlement conference set for Nov. 1.