BEMIDJI (AP) -- A Bemidji man convicted of conspiracy to commit murder drew the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, despite a petition signed by more than 300 people who urged the judge to be lenient.
Brian Frank Stebe, 29, is expected to serve just over 13 years in prison and then spend seven years on supervised release for his part in an alleged plot to kill three men in a dispute over drugs.
Duane Erickson, who runs a prison ministry, asked District Judge Paul Rasmussen on Thursday to be lenient and sentence Stebe instead to about 15 months in a Christian drug-and-alcohol treatment center, Teen Challenge. The judge rejected that.
Stebe's attorney, Darrell Carter, accused prosecutors of ''crucifying'' Stebe. He said Stebe was guilty only of taking drugs and saying ''inappropriate'' things on the telephone. He said they will appeal.
After the sentencing, eight supporters stood in a circle outside the courtroom and prayed for Stebe. Stebe's wife, Desi, said he has ''really gotten into his spirituality'' since his arrest.
Much of the case centered on phone conversations Stebe had with Travis Castonguay, an inmate at the state prison in Oak Park Heights, last Feb. 22 and 23. Prosecutors said Stebe, Castonguay and Castonguay's brother, Brandon, conspired during those conversations to kill three men from the Bena area by firebombing their home and shooting them as they fled.
Brandon Castonguay is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
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