Duluth man pleads guilty in stabbing

The victim's two young children witnessed the Gary-New Duluth assault.

A courtroom gavel

DULUTH — A man who stabbed his onetime friend at least a half-dozen times late last year in the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood has pleaded guilty to a first-degree assault charge.

Jerome Brian Voorhees, 46, of Duluth, entered the plea at a hearing last week in State District Court, averting a trial that was to begin for the November assault of Joseph Daniel Curtis, 42.

Jerome Brian Voorhees.jpg
Jerome Brian Voorhees

Court documents indicate that Curtis was attempting to deescalate a situation involving their girlfriends when Voorhees stabbed him six or seven times, causing serious injuries to his neck, ribs and arm, along with a collapsed lung.

An amended criminal complaint filed last week states that the assault was witnessed by Curtis' two daughters, 8 and 10, and one of them captured the entire incident on video. The document corrected an earlier version that identified them as adults.

The stabbing was reported shortly after 4:30 p.m. Nov. 29 on the 300 block of 96th Avenue West. In an interview at the Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center emergency room, Curtis told police that his car was being dropped off by a friend and that Voorhees arrived in another vehicle to give that man a ride.


The complaint states that Curtis approached Voorhees in an attempt to discuss communications between their girlfriends, "possibly involving allegations of infidelity." Voorhees allegedly got out of the car and held his hand behind his back, prompting Curtis to ask if he had a firearm.

"Mr. Curtis remembers hearing the defendant saying that Mr. Curtis should fight or come at him," the complaint states. "Mr. Curtis said they began fist fighting and he was blocking punches but later realized that he was getting stabbed by the defendant multiple times."

Investigators said the video confirmed his account, showing a verbal confrontation that led to a physical fight with Voorhees holding what appears to be a knife and yelling, "He don't want to dance with me!" Both children also came running out of the house, fearing for their father's safety.

Voorhees was taken into custody without incident by the Duluth Police Department the next day, but a prosecutor noted he had destroyed his phone to evade arrest and reportedly had a "mindset of potential self-harm."

In entering the plea, Voorhees admitted that the assault caused "great bodily harm" to Curtis. Judge Sally Tarnowski ordered him to remain in custody and cooperate with an investigation of his background ahead of sentencing on April 18.

Court records show Voorhees has a few prior convictions, including domestic assault and fifth-degree assault, but most dating back more than 20 years. A first-time offender would expect to face upward of seven years in prison for first-degree assault, though Voorhees may seek a departure from state sentencing guidelines.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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