Zumbrota man pleads guilty to attempted murder
RED WING — The man authorities accused of trying to kill a romantic rival with a hammer has pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder.
Jonathan Lee Closner, 26, of Zumbrota, entered the plea Monday in Goodhue County District Court; in exchange, two counts of first-degree attempted murder and one count each of first-degree assault; second-degree assault and first-degree burglary, all felonies, were dismissed. One count of misdemeanor domestic abuse also was dismissed.
Closner's sentencing has been set for July 12; the plea agreement calls for a 212-month prison term.
The state sentencing guidelines call for a presumptive sentence of 136-196 months. The upward departure is the result of four aggravating factors, the court document says, including the cruelty of the crime, the victim's vulnerability and severe personal injury, and the fact that Closner was violating an order for protection while committing the crime.
According to the criminal complaint, Closner entered the Zumbrota home of his estranged wife about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 14, where he found evidence that another man was in the residence.
Closner told investigators that he took a hammer out of a tool box near the front door and went to the back bedroom, where he found his wife and the man in bed.
Closner admitted in court Monday that he hit the 20-year-old victim twice in the head with the hammer in an attempt to kill him as he slept.
After the attack, Closner left the home, the report says, threw the hammer into the woods near the residence, then went to a business in Zumbrota where his mother works. Police arrested him there; the hammer was recovered a few hours later.
Closner's estranged wife told investigators that Closner still had keys to their home, though he had been living with his mother since their separation. She said the night of the incident, Closner put his hands over her mouth, pulled her off the bed onto the floor, then hit the man three to five times in the head with the hammer, the report says.
The victim was taken by medical helicopter to Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, where he was described as having suffered a "significant injury to the left side of his head and bone matter in the brain," the complaint says.
The Red Wing Republican-Eagle reports that the victim is now at the Courage Center, a rehabilitation and recovery center in Golden Valley, where he is relearning to walk and talk.
Court records indicate that Closner's wife had applied for an order for protection against him, which was granted and served three days before the attack.