Troy Traut pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor fifth-degree assault charge – one of six charges he was facing – in Douglas County District Court Thursday, June 6.
Traut, 34, of Pine River, formerly of Alexandria, is one of two men accused and charged in the beating of Steven “Beaver” Hlinsky outside the Muddy Boot bar in Forada in May 2018. Hlinsky died eight days later as a result of his injuries.
As part of the deal that was reached, Traut has agreed to testify against Jacob Larson, 34, of Kensington, the other man charged in connection with Hlinsky’s beating and death.
In addition, five other charges against Traut were dropped. They included 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. One other misdemeanor charge, aiding and abetting fifth-degree assault, was also dismissed.
The maximum penalty for Traut’s misdemeanor fifth-degree assault charge is up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
During Thursday’s hearing, Traut’s attorney, Gary Leistico from St. Cloud, asked him a series of questions regarding the night of the beating.
Traut said “yes” when asked if he was in Forada at the Muddy Boot with several people and that they went there after work to eat and have some drinks. Traut said “yes” that Hlinsky had also been in the bar and that they had discussions. He said “yes” when asked if Larson was coming out of the bar, in the breezeway and if Larson was pulling Hlinsky out. Traut also said “yes” when asked if he touched Hlinsky and intended to grab his arm and cause pain.
Leistico did not ask any further questions of Traut.
Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson did not question Traut.
A sentencing date will not be set until after Jacob Larson’s trial. A trial date has not been set for Larson, who faces the same six charges that had been made against Traut.
Leistico asked Judge Timothy Churchwell to change a couple items on Traut’s release conditions, including removing him from the color code testing. With this testing, someone on probation is required to call and listen to a daily recording, and if their color is called, must provide a urine sample for drug and alcohol testing.
Traut is still subject to random testing, which will be decided by law enforcement and his probation agent.
In addition, Leistico asked for the condition of Traut not being able to enter any establishment that sells alcohol to be changed to prohibit him from being in liquor stores and bars. In essence, the change means he could go with his family to a restaurant even if the restaurant sold alcohol.
Larson did not object to the changes and Churchwell agreed to them. Several other conditions are still in place: he cannot leave Minnesota without written court approval; he cannot have contact with the victim’s family; he has to remain law abiding; he cannot use or possess any firearms or dangerous weapons; and he cannot be in possession of alcohol or drugs.
Both Traut’s attorney and the county attorney were contacted by the Echo Press for comment, as well as members of both families. As of Thursday afternoon, Hlinsky’s family responded, but declined comment at this time.
The county attorney said due to the pendency of Jacob Larson’s case, he couldn’t really comment other than to say, “New evidence came to light this past week and Traut will be testifying at Larson’s trial.”According to the complaint
In the criminal complaint, it states:
Traut, Jacob Larson and two other men were sitting together at a table at the Muddy Boot on May 5, 2018. Surveillance video showed Traut appearing to approach Hlinsky several times in an “aggressive or agitated” manner. The video shows Traut grabbing a beer bottle in front of Hlinsky and throwing it against the wall.
The video then shows Jacob Larson walking over to Hlinsky, lighting what appears to be a marijuana pipe and blowing the smoke toward him. Hlinsky appears to be directing Larson to the door, stopping to talk to the bartender, then continuing to the door with Larson.
Hlinsky did not appear to be planning to leave the bar, but Traut grabbed him by the arm and pulled him outside. Larson is also seen in the video putting Hlinsky in a headlock and helping to pull him outside, where they vanished from the bartender’s view and from the surveillance video.