The man accused of illegally entering a Kalispell family’s home and stabbing the homeowner last year has changed his plea to amended charges in the case to a guilty plea accounting for mental illness.
Dante Kirpal Kier, who was 19 at the time of the Dec. 12, 2011 home invasion, appeared in Flathead County District Court on Nov. 14 to change his plea in front of Judge Ted O. Lympus.
Kier, of Santa Barbara, Calif., originally pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges stemming from the incident, including attempted deliberate homicide, aggravated burglary and assault with a weapon.
The plea agreement with the Flathead County Attorney’s Office changed the charges against Kier, leaving only attempted mitigated deliberate homicide in exchange for his confession.
He pleaded guilty by way of Alford but mentally ill. This means a defendant understands that he or she committed a crime, but did so under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is a reasonable explanation or excuse.
The prosecution suggested that Kier be placed at the Montana State Hospital under the direction of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services for a period not to exceed 35 years.
The Dec. 12, 2011 home invasion began while the homeowner was working on his dishwasher. He went to the garage to get a tool, and when he returned, he found Kier inside his house.
The homeowner’s wife and children were also home at the time of the break-in, and he confronted Kier, who had a weapon in his hand. In the ensuing fight, Kier stabbed the homeowner in the arm and mouth with a wood-handled steak knife.
Kier also attempted to stab the homeowner in the chest, and court records state that the knife was badly bent after the attack. The homeowner’s wife called 911 at about 9:35 p.m. as her husband held Kier down.
The homeowner received medical treatment and was released from the hospital. His wife and children were not harmed.
Kier was in the Flathead visiting relatives, and said he went into the house and tried to kill the homeowner because “it felt good.”
In his court appearances, Kier has appeared agitated and unfocused. The court ordered a psychiatric evaluation before Kier was allowed to enter a plea in the case.
During the Nov. 14, 2012 hearing, Kier apologized to the court, and his plea agreement reads, “Since the time of the commission of the alleged offense, I have received medication and I feel that I am now competent and able to assist in my own defense.”
The judge accepted his new plea, and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 6. Kier remains in custody at the Flathead County Detention Center.
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