Norgaard Plea For Man Who Killed His Ex-Girlfriend in Ramsey County

James Chestnut was charged with murder for killing his ex-girlfriend in St. Paul, Ramsey County. Towanda Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. Chestnut had stabbed her in her upper chest. Towanda’s husband was at the scene and told police that Chestnut had stabbed her and that they had dated in the past. He was visiting with his son and girlfriend and an argument ensued between Chestnut and Harris. He was then arrested at a bus stop nearby. He told police he was drunk and didn’t even remember arguing with her. He entered a Norgaard plea because he couldn’t remember what had happened. His sentencing date is on April 2, 2015 at the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul.

What is a Norgaard plea?
A Norgaard plea is a plea of guilty where the Defendant is unable to recall what happened at the time of the incident. A Norgaard plea may be entered when the Defendant is intoxicated or had amnesia and cannot recall the facts of the case. Sometimes it is favorable to enter into a Norgaard plea if a plea agreement is being offered or to avoid going to trial. A Defendant does not make a claim of innocence during a Norgaard plea. A St. Paul defense attorney would have to explain to Chestnut on record that he wants to enter into a Norgaard plea and understands what that means. A list of questions has to be asked of defendant to establish a basis for the plea, such as: if the Defendant has read the complaint and police reports, does the defendant have a recollection of the events in the reports, was the defendant intoxicated at the time of the events in the report, does the defendant understand that the State could present witnesses at trial, does the defendant doubt the accuracy of the reports, and does the defendant believe a jury with the evidence given would find proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt, etc.

What is an Alford Plea?
An Alford Plea is a plea of guilty that may be accepted by a court even where the defendant does not admit guilt. In an Alford plea, defendant has to admit that he has reviewed the state’s evidence, a reasonable jury could find him guilty, and he wants to take advantage of a plea offer that has been made. The court has discretion as to whether to accept this type of plea. This is beneficial in many cases where the defendant wants to maintain his innocence but also don’t not want to have the risk of going to trial. Trials can be risky and it is never guaranteed what the jury’s verdict will be.

If you have been charged with a crime where you don’t remember what happened due to intoxication or amnesia, contact Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys. A St. Paul Defense attorney be able to view to evidence and see if the proper procedures were followed. A St. Paul defense attorney may be able to challenge the stop and arrest and specific facts in your case, etc. A St. Paul defense attorney may also challenge the constitutionally of the statute and laws in the state. Max Keller is a criminal attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota. Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys offers free consultations. Call 952-913-1421 to talk with a criminal attorney licensed in Minnesota. Max Keller has also had clients enter into Norgaard Pleas and Alford pleas and is experienced with the pros and cons of doing do. He is familiar with the process and when it would benefit a client. Max Keller will fight for you and will meet with you for free. Please visit the firm’s website at

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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