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Published December 12, 2012, 09:04 AM

Mandan man gets 8 years in triple-fatal crash

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A Mandan man accused of driving drunk in a crash that killed three of his friends and injured a fourth has been sentenced to eight years in prison — three years longer than the term suggested in a rejected plea deal.

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A Mandan man accused of driving drunk in a crash that killed three of his friends and injured a fourth has been sentenced to eight years in prison — three years longer than the term suggested in a rejected plea deal.

A jury convicted Taylor Berhow, 24, in November on three counts of manslaughter in the deaths last year of 21-year-olds Charles Boehm and Trevor Erie and 22-year-old Eastman Nadeau. He was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Sonna Anderson, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Authorities said Berhow had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit for driving on Oct. 29, 2011, when his vehicle went out of control on a curve on a city road and crashed into a tree. A makeshift memorial that sprang up around the tree remains there more than a year later.

Berhow pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January but withdrew the plea when Anderson rejected the plea deal that called for a five-year prison term.

Defense attorney Tom Tuntland on Tuesday recommended a sentence similar to the one rejected by Anderson, saying such a sentence would serve the interests of everyone "except those who want Taylor skinned, hung upside down and crucified."

Parole Officer Brian Weigel testified that Berhow has a history of alcohol-related crimes and offenses and described him as a serial risk-taker. Berhow's father, Tim Berhow, testified that his son had a drinking problem but had not had alcohol since the crash.

Berhow, who apologized in court and said guilt and the prison sentence "is going to destroy me," did have supporters, including Donna Marek, Nadeau's stepmother. She said all of the friends made the decision to get in Berhow's car.

"It could have been any of them behind the wheel," she said.

Anderson said Berhow not only will have to serve his time behind bars but also live with the knowledge of what he did.

"That is an incredible burden, but one that he has brought upon himself," the judge said.

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