A 24-year-old woman was given a suspended sentence Thursday after she pleaded guilty to her role in a series of thefts.

Eden McMurtry pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of personal identifying information, a class B felony; conspiracy to commit forgery, a class C felony; one class B misdemeanor and two class C felony counts of possession of stolen property, as well as making false reports to law enforcement and possession of drug paraphernalia, both class A misdemeanors. As part of a plea agreement, one count of possession of stolen property and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed.

The plea deal called for a sentence of 366 days in prison, with 297 days suspended and credit for 69 days time served, meaning McMurtry was released Thursday.

Police arrested McMurtry in September after they said she tried to pass a forged check at a bank.

Bank tellers called for help after noticing that the account was frozen, and officers found McMurtry wearing a large hat, a long black and grey wig and what appeared to be prosthetic skin, which began peeling off of her face while she talked to police, court records say. McMurtry allegedly gave an officer stolen identification from a local woman, a ruse that failed because the officer knew the theft victim.

McMurtry was one of four people who were accused of breaking into St. Peter Episcopal Church in Williston and making off with the church’s donation jar, a number of keys, “church memorabilia and communion items” and animal crackers, according to police.

McMurtry and two others were accused of breaking into an SUV on Second Avenue East on Sept. 21, stealing a purse and credit cards. She and another man were also suspected of breaking into Pizza Hut, making off with about $500, a cash register, packets of parmesan cheese and pizza sauce. Charges were not filed in that case.

McMurtry was put on supervised probation for two years and one condition of her probation is that she complete drug treatment.

Ty Skarda, the public defender who represented McMurtry, said there is a spot reserved for her at North Central Human Services in Minot, and that she’s also trying to be admitted to Trinity’s drug treatment program in Minot.

“She just wants to get into treatment and turn her life around,” Skarda said.

Christopher Votava, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, told Northwest District Judge Kirsten Sjue that McMurtry had cooperated with police throughout the investigation and that substance abuse was at the root of her problems.

“So with the in-patient treatment requirement of probation, we kind of settled on that she would keep the permanent felonies due to the continued issues,” Votava said. “If she is revoked for failing to comply with that treatment, (then) we would be looking at a much harsher punishment at that point.”

Skarda told Sjue that McMurtry knew that if she didn’t complete treatment she could face a much longer sentence for violating her probation.

“She does realize, too, there are ramifications if she does not complete all this stuff and she knows we’ll be right back here,” he said.

Sjue accepted the plea agreement and said McMurtry’s cooperating with police, her limited criminal history and the fact the victims in the case were in favor of the deal weighed heavily in that decision. But, she said, the crimes McMurtry was accused of are very serious.

“Addiction is one thing and drug use is one thing, but when it starts to affect other people and other people’s property with things like burglaries and thefts, that’s another matter entirely,” Sjue said. “So I do take that very seriously, and I want to make that clear.”

Yancey McMurtry Jr., one of the co-defendants in the case, is scheduled to have a change of plea hearing on Tuesday. Joshua Ordaz and Landon Slade, the other two co-defendants, are scheduled to have change of plea hearings on April 16.

Williston Herald staff assistant Jason Rojas contributed to this report.



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