GOVERNMENT CENTER—In an unusual court case Tuesday morning, a Burnett County woman’s four separate cases involving three misdemeanors and a felony – her fourth OWI in five years – were combined into two years of probation with lots of strings attached.
District Court Judge Melissia Mogen ordered Georgiana “Jonny” Carson, 34, to:
• Attend AODA and domestic violence classes;
• Maintain steady and gainful employment;
• Make regular restitution payments;
• Get fingerprinted and provide a DNA sample to law enforcement;
• Strongly encouraged her plan to stay away from former partner, Robert Oiyotte, 58, of Webster.
Both Mogen and Carson’s attorney referred to Carson’s relationship with Oiyotte as “toxic.”
Burnett County Attorney William Norine said Oiyotte played a role in all four of Carson’s cases and added that charges against him may be forthcoming.
In a September hearing, Carson’s Attorney Fred Bechtold of Taylors Falls successfully argued “coercion” in Carson’s pending OWI case. The arrest occurred as Carson was driving to flee Oiyotte.
The arresting officer noted Carson’s facial bruises and marks around her neck indicating attempted strangulation, allegedly by Oiyotte.
Judge Mogen agreed at a second September hearing to reduce the OWI charge to reckless driving forfeiture, but said Carson’s driving while under the influence endangered her and the public, and must be taken seriously.
Bechtold told the court Carson’s plan to separate from Oiyotte was “the centerpiece” of the plea agreement between him and Norine.
In direct questioning by the judge, Carson pled guilty four times to charges of misdemeanor theft, criminal damage to property, reckless driving, and of failing to install an ignition interlock as previously directed by the court.
If Carson violates the terms of her probation, two of the four charges each carry a fine of not more than $10,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than nine months.
Judge Mogen warned Carson if her probation is revoked, Carson will appear before the judge for sentencing.
At that time the judge would be free to review all the charges, including dismissed charges, and could sentence Carson to the maximum for each of the counts. Carson said she understood.
In closing comments, Attorney Norine told the court he accepted the plea agreement because
“We are getting a lot of rehabilitative conditions from the defendant in this rather large settlement of four cases.”
Norine said the longer than usual two-year probation period will provide, “A huge improvement in Ms. Carson’s situation with close supervision. I think it is a well-negotiated agreement and a well-thought-out result.”
In the defense attorney’s statement to the court before sentencing, Bechtold reiterated,
“Breaking contact with Robert Oiyotte is the centerpiece of the agreement. Your honor, my comments are more directed to my client than to the court. This man almost killed her and this just cannot continue. This relationship has to be broken.”
In accepting the agreement, Judge Mogen said, “In sentencing, the court needs to look at three factors: protecting the public, the nature and gravity of the offense, and the past criminal record and character of the defendant.
“The court likes to see defendants take responsibility for their actions, as you are agreeing to do.
“Your plan is good to stay away from this toxic individual,” she continued. “Go to AODA and domestic abuse counseling. Get gainful employment. It will keep you on the straight and narrow.”
In closing, the judge once again encouraged Carson, “Stay away from Mr. Oiyotte. Get the help you need and turn things around. Good luck.”