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Moorhead man strikes plea deal to spend 15 years behind bars for murder of fired employee

Neil James Johnson

MOORHEAD, Minn. — A Moorhead man pleaded guilty Thursday, March 15, to murdering a man he once supervised, then fired and yet allowed him to live in his garage.

Neil James Johnson, 26, entered a guilty plea in Clay County District Court to a charge of second-degree murder without intent in the shooting death of Jacob Glover, 28, of West Fargo. Johnson remains in the Clay County Jail, where he has been held since the April 6 shooting.

The shooting came amid Johnson's concerns about Glover trying to steal from him, after Johnson learned that Glover had been accused of trying to steal coins from the father of a mutual acquaintance. Glover died from his wounds at a south Moorhead home, court documents stated.

A charge of second-degree murder with intent, but not premeditated, was dropped as part of a plea agreement Johnson struck with prosecutors. Prosecutors also agreed to a sentence of 15 years in prison, less jail time served since April 6, plus restitution and some fees, court documents show.

A judge will have the final say on Johnson's sentence. He is set to be sentenced May 8.

According to court documents:

Police were dispatched to the Moorhead home about 8:50 p.m. on April 6. The caller, later identified as Johnson, said he had shot someone and that the handgun was in his living room. Johnson said the man he shot, identified as Glover, had run away.

When officers arrived, they found Glover in a driveway a few houses away. First responders worked to save Glover's life, and he was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he was pronounced dead.

In an interview with police, Johnson said he was a manager at Don's Car Wash and recently fired Glover and another man. Still, Johnson said he let Glover live in his garage and called him "a really good guy."

Johnson said that on April 6, he received messages from another man, identified in court documents only as T.M., and learned that Glover allegedly tried to steal coins from the farmhouse of T.M.'s father. T.M. warned Johnson to check his home for missing items.

Johnson, who acknowledged he snorted meth earlier that day, went into the garage to search Glover's belongings, and he also loaded a handgun.

Some time after, Glover arrived and was met by Johnson, who held the gun. The pair argued, and Johnson said Glover approached him. As he did, Johnson held up the handgun.

Glover said he would break Johnson's neck, and the pair continued to argue. Johnson said Glover was 4 to 5 feet away from him and he pulled the trigger on the gun. The first round misfired, Johnson said, and Glover froze. Johnson said he pulled the trigger again, hitting Glover.

Johnson said Glover then said, "You shot me!" over and over. Johnson said as Glover moved toward him, he shot at Glover twice more.

A medical report found that Glover had been shot twice. One entry wound was in the victim's back, with no exit wound. The second wound was to the buttock or hip area. Neither wound showed evidence of close-range firing, court documents stated.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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