Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK—Pleading guilty Tuesday to charges he set a fire out of a desire to return to the state penitentiary for mental health treatment, Darren Weber's wish was granted. South Central District Judge Sonna Anderson sentenced the Bismarck man to four years for felony endangering by fire and four felony counts of violating a court order. Weber said he pleaded guilty to expedite his return to treatment
BISMARCK — Sam Saylor walked down a dark hallway of the Morton County Courthouse to the clerk of district court's office. He was there to ask if the judge had arrived for a motion hearing that blizzardy afternoon on Wednesday, Jan. 10, but instead was told the hearing was canceled, the charges dismissed. Prosecutor Brian Grosinger had motioned one day before trial to dismiss the four pipeline protest-related charges against Saylor's client, Ernest Cobiness. His reason? "The state cannot sufficiently identify the defendant," Grosinger wrote in his motion.
GLADSTONE, N.D.—New landowners have closed public access to the flagship sculpture of the Enchanted Highway in a dispute over liability and the creator's lease to the site. Seth and Kayla O'Donnell purchased a 28-acre parcel for an easement to build their house in February 2017. Included in that acreage is the five-acre site of "Geese in Flight," the 110-foot tall metal attraction at the head of the 32-mile statuary road to Regent in southwestern North Dakota.
MANDAN, N.D.—Rodrick Joe has a chance to keep his clean record despite being convicted Thursday as the first Dakota Access Pipeline protester to sustain a felony conviction at trial. Surrogate Judge Daniel El-Dweek convicted the 21-year-old of felony tampering with a public service, stemming from Joe's arrest on Nov. 15, 2016, at a protest on the railroad tracks crossing Morton County Road 82 west of Mandan. "I'm a little disappointed," Joe said after hearing his conviction from the all-day felony court trial at the Morton County Courthouse.
BISMARCK—A jailed arson suspect US now charged with threatening to harm the detective who investigated his fiancee's house fire. Spencer Norton, 36, was charged Tuesday, Jan. 2, with felony terrorizing against an adult. He is held at the Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center on separate arson and burglary charges from the fall. At Norton's preliminary hearing last month, Bismarck Police Detective Jon Lahr testified about his arson investigation, after which Norton snarled, "I'll eat you alive at trial."
NEW TOWN, N.D.—Tribal police and family members of a missing New Town woman continue to search for her despite a strained relationship between the two camps. Olivia Lone Bear has been missing since Oct. 24. Her brother, Matthew, has spearheaded volunteer search efforts for her recovery, and said his family's relationship with law enforcement is "nonexistent." Police haven't showed up at a volunteer search headquarters for days, including a nine-day stretch recently, he said, adding that volunteers have several tip sheets waiting for law enforcement.
BISMARCK — Entering the fifth year since his mother's death, accused murderer Christopher Vick is less than a month from trial and has been granted special accommodations. At a motion hearing Wednesday morning at the Morton County Courthouse, South Central District Judge Thomas Schneider granted the defense's two motions, allowing Vick to appear in plainclothes at trial, free of visible restraints. Prosecutor Julie Lawyer raised no objection. "Of course, that will change if there are any outbursts during trial," she said.
BISMARCK — Two months after an officer-involved shooting in Bismarck, Burleigh County State's Attorney Richard Riha has found the shooting was justified. Riha wrote Thursday, Dec. 21, to Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin that upon review of motel surveillance and police vehicle videos, "the videos leave no doubt that the officer acted appropriately." Suspected attacker Donald Miller approached Bismarck Police officer Justin Antonovich in his patrol vehicle on Oct. 15 at the Bismarck Motor Motel, where Antonovich had arrived on an unrelated call.
BISMARCK—District of North Dakota Chief Judge Daniel Hovland has denied two motions to suppress evidence and statements from Red Fawn Fallis from when she was arrested at a pipeline protest last year. Fallis, 38, is accused of shooting a handgun at officers during her arrest on Oct. 27, 2016, in a fray alongside State Highway 1806 north of Cannon Ball. Hovland's federal court order came Friday, finding that Fallis' "voluntary" statements weren't derived from interrogation, and therefore are admissible at trial next month.
BISMARCK — With about a week to trial, a former Beulah police officer won't have his statements suppressed from an interview with investigators in which he admitted to sexual contact with a teenager. Dustin Pekas, 36, was Beulah's lead police officer at the time of the interview in mid-September. He sought to suppress his statements to two North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents up until he requested counsel, alleging the interview was custodial.