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Hills man pleads guilty in multiple cases

WORTHINGTON -- Mark Daniel Stewart, 28, of Hills, entered into several plea agreements with the state Monday in Nobles County District Court, pleading guilty to fleeing from a peace officer in a motor vehicle and motor vehicle theft, both felonies, and also to misdemeanor charges of criminal damage to property, trespassing and fleeing a peace officer on foot.

The charges stem from three separate criminal complaints, all dated within days of each other.

The complaints state authorities were called to Sunset Park regarding suspicious people in the area. An officer located Stewart and a woman, but Stewart later ran from the officer.

"I fled on foot, entered a home without consent to hide and broke the door to get in," Stewart wrote on a plea agreement document.

When asked by Judge Jeffrey Flynn Monday, Stewart admitted he did not know whose house he broke into, but said he forced the door open with his shoulder.

The day after the incident, a warrant was put out for Stewart's arrest. On May 28, his presence was reported in a bar in Adrian, but officers encountered him on I-90. A conservation officer pulled up behind a vehicle driven by Stewart while others tried to block the I-90 exit, but Stewart evaded the road block and led authorities on a high-speed chase over rural gravel and black-topped roads.

Eventually he lost his pursuers in the dust cloud of a gravel road.

The following morning, authorities received a call regarding the vehicle.

It had been found wedged against an unattached garage and reported by the homeowner.

During questioning about the events, Stewart said Monday the car ran out of gas after the chase, so he and a woman left it and proceeded on foot until they came across a "bunch of sheds."

The sheds were actually the gated property of an Intervet testing facility. Inside one of the buildings, Stewart said he found a truck.

"I was scared and didn't know what to do," he told the judge, adding that a bunch of factors including "stupidity" and illegal narcotics contributed to his next move. "Adrenaline had gotten me, and I ended up taking the vehicle."

He drove the truck for several days, even taking a license plate from a friend with a similar truck.

Stewart was arrested June 6 in Lismore while running from peace officers in an alley behind his parents' house.

The plea agreement includes a stay of any executed sentence on the condition Stewart serve 270 in jail, 80 hours of community service and five years of probation.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by Flynn.