Troy Traut, a defendant in the beating death of a man at a Forada bar in 2018, was sentenced Monday, Nov. 2, to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to a fifth-degree assault charge.
Traut, 35, of Pine River, formerly of Alexandria, is one of two men who faced charges after the beating and eventual death of Steven Hlinsky, 46, of Forada. Traut's co-defendant, Jacob Larson, rejected the same plea deal that Traut accepted, instead opting for a jury trial where he was convicted and is serving a sentence of 7½ years in jail.
District Court Judge Antoinette Wetzel handed down the maximum penalty to Traut during a sentencing hearing at the Morrison County Courthouse in Little Falls.
Wetzel asked Traut if he had anything to say to which he replied, “I am sorry. I know this affected lots of people and I am deeply sorry.”
No impact statements were read during the sentencing hearing, but paper copies were provided to the judge ahead of time.
According to the judge's orders, Traut needs to turn himself in to the Douglas County Jail at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 to start his sentence. Traut’s lawyer, Gary Leistico, asked the judge if Traut could start serving his sentence in January because he is working and it is a busy time of year. The judge gave him 30 days instead.
Traut will also get credit for seven days for time already spent in jail.
The judge also ordered Traut to pay restitution in the total amount of $57,730.54. However, Leistico challenged the restitution and a hearing has now been set for Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Morrison County Courthouse.
He also explained to the judge that Traut had previously posted bail and asked for that to be released back to him. The judge told Leistico that Traut’s bail money will remain escrowed to pay for restitution.
About the case
In the early-morning hours of May 5, 2018, Hlinsky was found on the sidewalk outside the Muddy Boot Bar and Grill in Forada bleeding from the nose and ear. He was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital with life-threatening injuries, released May 11, and died two days later, May 13, 2018.
Both Traut and Larson, 35, of Kensington, were charged in the case and faced the same six charges – second-degree murder, aiding and abetting second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and aiding and abetting first-degree manslaughter, which are all felony level charges, along with two misdemeanor charges, fifth-degree assault and aiding and abetting fifth-degree assault. They were each offered a plea deal, with only Traut accepting it. Larson's case went to trial. On Aug. 3 of this year, Larson was sentenced in Douglas County District Court by Judge Timothy Churchwell to 90 months – 7½ years – in jail. Two-thirds of his sentence will be served in jail, while the rest will be on supervised probation. Larson received credit for time he already served, which was 207 days.
Traut entered a guilty plea Oct 5 in front of Wetzel at the Morrison County Courthouse in Little Falls.
Early on in the case, Traut had pleaded guilty to the fifth-degree assault charge as part of a plea agreement where he would testify against the Larson.
During the Oct. 5 hearing, Leistico explained to the judge that the plea was rejected by Churchwell in Douglas County for what Churchwell called a “lack of a sufficient factual basis.” After discussing the matter with Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson, Traut would take the option of re-entering the guilty plea on the fifth-degree assault charge, with Wetzel eventually being assigned the case.
In addition, because of his testimony in the co-defendant’s trial, the other five charges would once again be dismissed and he would only be sentenced for the assault charge.
During the October hearing, Wetzel asked Traut what he did or why he was pleading guilty to the fifth-degree assault.
He responded, “I put my hands on another person when I shouldn’t have.”
Wetzel asked if he intended to harm the person and Traut replied, “Yes.”
The judge accepted his plea agreement based on what she said was “sufficient factual basis.”