Mille Lacs County Times

Posted: 2/28/08

Princeton man pleads ‘not guilty' to murder

Princeton Union-Eagle

Travis Stay, 23, of Princeton, pled not guilty in state court in Grand Forks, N.D. last Friday to murder charges in connection with the fatal beating of Joel Lovelien, 38, of Grand Forks Oct. 27, 2007.

Stay is a graduate of Princeton High School and was a nursing student at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks at the time of his arrest. He was arrested Dec. 10 on a charge of Class AA felony murder.

Stay is out of jail on a $100,000 bond. He was in court Friday to determine if there was enough evidence to continue with the case. State District Judicial Referee Harland Dyrun ruled during the appearance Friday that there is enough evidence.

Here is the Grand Forks Herald account of Friday's testimony during the state court proceedings:

Grand Forks Police Detective Duane Simon testified that Lovelien, while at the Broken Drum Bar in Grand Forks, the night of Oct. 27, had stepped outside at one point to take a cell phone call. Testimony states that Lovelien then witnessed an altercation among some passengers on a charter bus in the parking lot of the Broken Drum.

Lovelien, according to the testimony, also noticed that a man who had been on the bus, was left behind when the bus left.

Pre-Halloween revelers were taking the bus from bar to bar, according to the Herald.

Testimony further stated that Lovelien had gone back inside the bar to tell friends about the altercation and then went back outside to help the man who was left behind, which was Stay.

Stay was injured from the fighting, according to the testimony.

Prosecutors claim that Stay turned on Lovelien when Lovelien came to help him and fatally beat Lovelien.

Testimony included a report on the clothing that Stay had worn, a yellow-hooded sweatshirt with mane and lion's paws for Stay's hands and feet and that Stay also wore brown pants, all part of a Halloween costume.

Prosecutor Nancy Yon stated that Lovelien's blood was splattered over Stay's Halloween costume.

Stay's attorney, Peter Wold, had detective Simon acknowledge that men involved in the first altercation were "belligerent" and "confrontational" when questioned by police.

Wold also said it was unlikely that Stay, at 5'9" and weighing 160 pounds, could have beaten Lovelien as severely as Lovelien was beaten. Lovelien was over six feet and weighed about 240 pounds.

Detective Simon testified under cross examination from Wold that Stay was beaten badly and was down on the ground "and unable to get to his feet" before encountering Lovelien.

Yon stated that Stay couldn't account for his actions in the hour between missing his bus at the bar and taking a taxi later.

Yon also asserted that Stay was angry because he had missed the bus and was the last person seen with Lovelien.

Wold, the Herald reported, argued that a group of people were angry at Stay and not happy with someone coming to Stay's aid.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 30.

The maximum penalty for murder, if convicted, in North Dakota, is life in prison without parole.

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Mille Lacs County Times
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