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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Paynesville teen charged with making threats to be evaluated

The competence of an 18-year-old student who is accused of making threats at Paynesville Area High School will be assessed before the criminal case can move forward.

The motion was submitted before Judge William J. Cashman on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a virtual hearing in Stearns County District Court by Meghan Bork, the public defender for Matthew Paul Herr-Ramirez. The judge’s order was submitted the same day without opposition from the Stearns County Attorney’s Office.

Competency assessments are carried out when it is thought that a defendant “was not responsible at the time of the alleged act due to mental illness or developmental impairment,” according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.

Herr-Ramirez is accused of making five violent threats that are felonies. In anticipation of the competence test, the criminal case procedures have been put on pause.

Herr-Ramirez was detained on October 17 at his Grove City residence after he reportedly threatened to shoot students. The criminal complaint states that police discovered an airsoft gun—a firearm that fires non-lethal plastic pellets—on him.

The threats reportedly occurred on October 14 and October 17. According to the complaint, a young witness said that Herr-Ramirez pointed out three Paynesville Area High School employees as well as a student whom he intended to shoot.

The order for a mental health or cognitive impairment evaluation was also submitted on Wednesday, but it won’t be carried out until Herr-Ramirez is determined to be fit to stand trial.

In accordance with that directive, the defense attorney informed the Stearns County Attorney’s Office of its intention to raise the defense of mental illness or cognitive impairment.

A functional and developmental needs evaluation of Herr-Ramirez was completed in 2016 according to family court documents in an unrelated case.

A sort of evaluation is used to prepare for assistance for persons with any kind of impairment or other need for long-term care, according to the website for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Herr-Ramirez was reportedly getting individual counseling, medication management, and special education assistance at the time, according to a social worker’s report in the same case.

On October 21, Herr-Ramirez was granted release from the Stearns County Jail after a $100,000 non-cash bail was posted.

His release is subject to a number of restrictions, including his expulsion from Paynesville Area High School, a prohibition on any communication with the claimed victims, and a requirement that he not live in a place where there are any guns.

The following court appearance is presently set for January 23, 2023.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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