No plea deal for North Dakota man charged in triple-fatalMANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A man accused of driving drunk and causing the deaths of three of his friends in a crash in Mandan last fall is heading to trial after a judge rejected a plea agreement.
MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A man accused of driving drunk and causing the deaths of three of his friends in a crash in Mandan last fall is heading to trial after a judge rejected a plea agreement.
Judge Sonna Anderson did not comment on her reasons for rejecting the plea deal Tuesday. She did not immediately set a trial date for Taylor Berhow, 23, of Bismarck, but indicated it likely will be in September.
Authorities allege that Berhow's blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit for driving when he crashed into a tree last Oct. 29 while driving at least 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.
The crash killed Charles Boehm, 21; Trevor Erie, 21; and Eastman Nadeau, 22, all of Mandan. A fourth passenger was injured and spent more than a week in the hospital. Berhow also was hospitalized for a few days.
The plea deal called for Berhow to serve five years in prison and five years on probation. After Anderson's rejection he withdrew guilty pleas to three counts of manslaughter, according to The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV.
"Taylor's going to be carrying the burden of guilt for the rest of his life," defense attorney Tom Tuntland told the judge on Tuesday. "There's just no way you can undo that."
Morton County Assistant State's Attorney Jackson Lofgren said he had reviewed nearly three dozen letters from family members of the victims that covered a "wide range of feelings."
"Many of them are supportive of Mr. Berhow. Some of them wish that he serve the rest of his life in prison. But the bulk of them are somewhere in between," the prosecutor said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.