David Warnke
David Warnke
March 27, 2014

The 28-year-old Lanesboro man who was severely beaten and disfigured in a September brawl in his house - and, after the months-long investigation of that incident, was charged with possession of drugs on the same day the felony assault and burglary charges against his alleged assailants were dismissed - avoided prison this week with a plea deal with the Carroll County attorney.

David Warnke faced two felony drug-possession charges that were punishable by up to 15 years in prison but pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanors this week, according to court records. He was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation.

The charges were the result of an investigation into the Sept. 1 fight at Warnke's house, in which Warnke was beaten unconscious in the face with a shotgun.

Three men went into his house that day and fought Warnke and a friend. The circumstances that led to the fight are unclear because the men have opposing views of what happened.

The result, however, was indisputable: Warnke recovered for several days in a Des Moines hospital and underwent surgery to repair his face. He has a scarred upper lip, four missing front teeth and two metal plates in his face.

Carroll County Sheriff's deputies watched Warnke's house in the weeks that followed and gathered evidence to search it for drugs. Deputies later seized four guns, marijuana, bongs and a smoking device with a white, rock substance from the house.

Warnke suffered a grand maul seizure during the search, he and his family have said.

In December, County Attorney John Werden dismissed the charges against the three men who fought with Warnke despite the outcries of Warnke's family.

"Assault is now legal in Carroll County, I guess," Warnke's father, Steve Warnke, said at the time. "What kind of message does this send?"

Werden declined to talk in-depth about the case with the Daily Times Herald but said: "Law enforcement obtained more information after the initial report and continued to investigate the case. ... We look for evidence of not being guilty and evidence of guilt. The county attorney's role is not just to obtain convictions, but it is to seek justice."

Warnke's mother Sheila said this morning that it has been difficult to move past the fight and drug charges because "the guys that attacked David are still harassing" him. She said they drive past his house "and yell about how they got off."

"We are just so tired of all the crap," Sheila Warnke said.