By Staff reports
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Man faces child neglect, terroristic threats charges

 

Joshua Paul Bulu

A Hinckley man faces sentencing September 20 after pleading guilty to child neglect and felony terroristic threats August 8.

The charge of child neglect stems from an incident January 30, whereas the terroristic threat offense occurred July 12.

According to the child endangerment complaint, Pine County Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic disturbance reported by neighbors of a woman with two young children. The neighbors reported concern over the anger displayed by her boyfriend, Joshua Paul Bulu, 27.

The complaint described how the neighbor, when she went to check on the woman, could hear screaming and loud thuds coming from inside the residence. The neighbors were able to get the woman and her children to their home in spite of threats from Bulu, according to the complaint.

Bulu then showed up at the neighbor's house, threatening to kill himself if he wasn't allowed to see his children and girlfriend. The complaint stated Bulu knelt on the ground, laid his head on the pavement, pulled a knife out of his pocket and held it to his own neck. The neighbor, with the help of his son-in-law, was able to wrestle the knife away, and Bulu returned home, according to the complaint.

A deputy spoke with the mother of the two children who explained Bulu was often upset with the children and did not think they should be out of their rooms. The woman stated that Bulu screamed at her, threw things at her, including a can of corn, pushed her on the floor, slammed her into a wall and bit her face. The complaint stated there were marks consistent with a human bite mark on her left cheek.

The complaint stated the deputy observed facial bruising on the 1-year-old being carried into the room, noting the bruising appeared inconsistent with normal toddler activity. The woman stated the bruising appeared two days prior, after a morning during which Bulu had been caring for the children. She said she did not know how it occurred, but she suspected Bulu caused the injury, although he blamed the 2-year-old, according to the complaint.

The complaint stated a child protection report was made in 2011 alleging abuse of a minor child. The then 1-year-old had repeated bruising to her face the parents were unable to explain, the complaint stated. Those injuries to the infant in 2011 were consistent with and mirrored the injuries reported in January.

The original charges of malicious punishment of a child under 4, terroristic threats-reckless disregard risk, gross misdemeanor domestic assault and malicious punishment of a child-less than substantial bodily harm were dismissed in the plea deal.

According to Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson, under Minnesota law, multiple counts can be charged from one crime; it gives a higher success rate for conviction on at least one crime. However, there can only be conviction (with few exceptions) on one of those counts when the charges are from one crime. For instance, in a jury trial, if the jury finds someone guilty of four counts from the same crime, Minnesota law says the court can only sentence on one of those counts (the most severe one). The rest of the counts are noted as "not sentenced," explained Frederickson in an email Monday.

The second case involving Bulu occurred on July 12. Around 5:38 p.m., the complaint stated Bulu was seen driving a red sports utility vehicle (SUV) by an off-duty deputy. The deputy also knew there was an active warrant for Bulu's arrest. He reported the sighting, and the deputy on duty confirmed the warrant and that Bulu's license was suspended.

The deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the passenger of the vehicle got out. The deputy advised Bulu he was under arrest and commanded he step out of the vehicle and put up his hands. Bulu, according to the complaint, yelled he was not going to jail and yelled for the female passenger to get back in the vehicle, but she was advised against it by the officer.

Bulu drove his car a short distance. When he stopped, the deputy again commanded Bulu to exit the vehicle as he was under arrest. Bulu drove off again, so the deputy returned to his squad car and followed the defendant, according to the complaint.

Bulu again stopped the vehicle, commanding the passenger to get back into the SUV. She was again advised by the officer not to get into the SUV. Another officer arrived on the scene and gave similar commands to Bulu, who finally exited the vehicle.

Bulu was ordered to lay down on the ground, however, he remained on his knees. He was handcuffed while one deputy held him at gunpoint. Once Bulu was stood up, he said he was going to kill the deputies. After being seated in the back, he kicked the side of the squad car and threatened harm to the deputy. En route to the jail, Bulu again stated he would kill the deputy and all his family.

The original counts of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, obstructing legal process and driving after suspension were dismissed when Bulu pleaded guilty to the terroristic threats charge.

The maximum statutory sentence for the child neglect charge is one year and/or up to a $3,000 fine, and the terroristic threat maximum is up to 5 years and/or $10,000.

Frederickson explained in an email the statutory maximums do not mean that courts can choose to sentence Bulu up to five years in prison. In theory, the only time a person reaches a statutory maximum is if he or she has a lengthy felony record and the crime is such that the top is warranted. Otherwise, Minnesota sentencing guidelines which set certain ranges based on criminal history have to be followed. Those guidelines tell when a person goes to prison and when they receive probation (with certain exceptions).

A criminal conviction search revealed nine misdemeanor cases on Bulu's record.

 

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