Likely change of plea in attempted murder case

Minneota native Chad Vincent Legare, 43, who was arrested in early February and charged with attempted murder of a North Dakota Catholic priest, is scheduled to change his not guilty plea.

Legare, a 1994 Minneota graduate who has been living in Alexandria, is accused of assaulting Rev. Robert Wapenski on Jan. 30 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Anamoose, ND, following a dispute involving a woman.

Anamoose is a city of 300 people located 100 miles northeast of Bismarck.

Legare, who was also charged with aggravated assault and burglary, is now expected to enter a guilty plea. North Dakota's McHenry County Court documents show that a trial originally scheduled for Nov. 13 in State District Court in Towner, ND, has now been canceled, and a change-of-plea hearing has now been scheduled for Nov. 13.

On June 27, Legare and his attorney, Willmar Hartl, entered a not-guilty plea to the three felony charges. At that time, presiding Judge Donovan Doughty informed Legare and Hartl that the murder charge was a Class A felony and that the maximum penalty he could receive if found guilty would be 20 years in jail, as well as a $20,000 fine.

With the maximum penalty for the aggravated assault and burglary charge adding up to five and 10 years in jail, respectively, Legare could have faced up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Investigators reported that Rev. Wapenski had been beaten and bloodied by Legare and left in a field on Jan. 30, and had also been strangled with computer speaker wire.

Days prior to the attacks, Legare had informed the police department in Minot that Rev. Wapenski had repeatedly raped his girlfriend. Rev. Wapenski has not been charged with such a crime, according to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Representatives for the Catholic Diocese of Fargo told deputies that Legare had contacted them with allegations against Rev. Wapenski and that they informed him to contact law enforcement.

According to a report by an investigator for the North Dakota Criminal Bureau of Investigation, a woman stated she told Legare that she had been sexually assaulted but would not testify to that.

The woman told the investigator that she had moved to North Dakota in July of 2017 to had met Legare online and they had been dating for just over a month before Legare was arrested.

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