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One defendant pleads in death of Forada man

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.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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