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Man accused of hitting motorcyclist, firing at North Dakota trooper is sent to State Hospital

Maichael Yousa, 28, of Fargo, will be evaluated to determine if his competency can be restored, but prosecutors cited a psychologist's report that Yousa showed "obvious signs of malingering."

An open-mouthed man with short locs and a beard is dressed in an orange jail shirt.
Maichael Yousa shouts at prosecutors during a hearing to commit him to the North Dakota State Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, in district court, Fargo, on charges for the July 19 attempted murder of a motorcyclist on Interstate 29 in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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FARGO — A Fargo man accused of nearly killing a motorcyclist before firing his gun at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper lashed out at a prosecutor in a profanity-laced outburst before a judge ordered the defendant be evaluated further to determine whether he is fit for trial.

Cass County Judge Stephannie Stiel approved a recommendation on Tuesday, Dec. 27, that 28-year-old Maichael Kamal Yousa be sent to the State Hospital for further evaluation and medication. A psychologist will determine whether he is mentally unfit for further court proceedings or if he can regain the competency needed to face trial.

The defendant agreed to being sent for further evaluation, but not before yelling at prosecutor Ryan Younggren. Yousa called the assistant state’s attorney several derogatory terms as Younggren suggested the State Hospital be allowed to administer involuntary medications if necessary.

“I bet it’s because I’m Black!” Yousa shouted. “That’s what it is! American! By the way, I’m an American citizen," he said, ending by calling Younggren a profane name.

Yousa has been in jail since mid-July for a long list of criminal charges, including attempted murder and eight counts of reckless endangerment. The charges stem from July 19, when Yousa drove his blue Chevrolet pickup into a motorcycle driven by 34-year-old Eric O’Meara on Interstate 29 near West Acres mall.

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Yousa was going almost 100 mph, according to Younggren. The crash sent O’Meara off his motorcycle, and Yousa fled the scene, according to a criminal complaint.

The motorcyclist was treated for life-threatening injuries but survived the crash.

Shortly after the crash, police received a report that a man believed to be Yousa was shooting a gun from an apartment balcony near Essentia hospital. Yousa was accused of shooting at the pickup believed to be used in the hit-and-run, the complaint said.

Yousa left in the blue pickup before police arrived but crashed into two more vehicles, the complaint said. The first crash, at 32nd Street South and 32nd Avenue South, triggered a pursuit that lasted until Yousa rear-ended the second vehicle while trying to exit I-29 onto Interstate 94, the complaint said.

Yousa got out of the pickup, pointed his gun at State Trooper Miles Rhonemus and fired in the officer’s area, according to Younggren.

Rhonemus shot Yousa twice in his arm. The trooper was uninjured, and Yousa was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the Cass County Jail.

The Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office said Rhonemus was justified in firing his weapon at Yousa.

Yousa’s defense requested a mental health evaluation to determine if he was unfit for trial. Tuesday’s hearing was used to discuss if all future hearings should be suspended.

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As Yousa entered the courtroom, he asked where his family was. At times, he turned in his chair and apologized as he looked at the audience.

Younggren agreed that Yousa should be sent to the State Hospital, but he didn’t seem ready to stipulate that the defendant was unfit for trial. The prosecutor cited a report that found Yousa displayed “obvious signs of malingering,” a medical term described as exaggerating or lying about mental illness symptoms that is sometimes exhibited by a defendant in an attempt to escape criminal responsibility.

Yousa said he is not guilty and claimed he was sleeping in his apartment during the crashes. Stiel asked Yousa to let the prosecutor talk, promising that she would hear him out.

“This is embarrassing, really,” Yousa said.

When Stiel asked Yousa if he had anything to say, he said he would let his attorney, Nicole Bredahl, speak for him.

Stiel also approved a motion from Younggren to add a ninth count of reckless endangerment for another July 19 crash. A blue pickup sideswiped a woman's vehicle at the ramp where the shooting occurred, according to a North Dakota Highway Patrol report. The crash wasn't reported until the next day.

The woman told the officer she left the scene because she didn't feel safe due to the shooting, the report said.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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