Hungry Horse Artist Admits Attempt to Electrocute Woman

Local artist Nicholas Oberling on Nov. 28 pleaded guilty to felony criminal endangerment for trying to electrocute his ex-partner while she was in the shower

By Maggie Dresser
The Flathead County Justice Center in Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

A 59-year-old Hungry Horse man pleaded guilty to a criminal endangerment charge this week, admitting that he tried to electrocute his ex-partner while she showered last July.

Nicholas Oberling, a local landscape artist, entered the guilty plea at a Nov. 28 hearing in Flathead County District Court before Judge Robert. B. Allison. The admission was part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

According to charging documents, the reporting party on July 23 was taking a shower when she received a “big shock” after grabbing soap from the soap dish. After dropping the soap on the floor, she found a wire in the soap dish with the plastic coating stripped back about three inches.

When deputies arrived, they found the wire extending through the opposite side of the wall and through a drywall patch that ran toward an outlet. The wire was not plugged into the outlet at the time, but law enforcement observed that the wire was bent around other stripped wires that exposed bare copper and were plugged into the outlet.

After the woman was shocked, she called Oberling, with whom she was in the process of separating, to ask him what he had done, records state. She reported to law enforcement that the defendant returned to the residence and told her he was trying to shock her. He then tried to take her phone, causing a fight.

Oberling remains in the Flathead County Detention Center, where he has been since his arrest in July.

According to the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a deferred five-year sentence in the Montana State Prison and will require the defendant to pay all costs and fines determined by the court; however, Judge Allison is not required to accept the sentencing recommendation. Oberling’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 9 a.m.

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