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N. Minn. man admits to ax-handle beating that cost victim his eye

A northern Minnesota man has admitted to beating a man so severely with an ax handle that his victim had to have his eye removed in surgery.

Joseph W. Howard Jr., 47, of Red Lake, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis to assault resulting in serious bodily injury in connection with the Jan. 13 attack at a home on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Explaining to authorities what ignited the attack, Howard told authorities that the Grand Rapids man "was messing with him," according to the indictment.

According to Howard's plea agreement:

Authorities were called to the home and found a bed and bedroom walls splattered in blood. A bloodied ax handle was found behind the dryer in the utility room.

The victim suffered several broken bones from being beaten while he was sleeping, and his badly damaged left eye was surgically removed.

Howard faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.


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