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Dickinson hit-and-run suspect faces additional charge; SC man faces manslaughter accusation

Timothy Menges, the man accused of killing Tracy Freer, is facing additional charges and possible tripled penalties stemming from a November hit-and-run incident.

On July 11, State's Attorney Tom Henning filed a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, a Class B felony. Menges also faces a charge of negligent homicide, a Class C felony. That charge was brought in March.

Henning asked Judge Dann Greenwood to combine the charges for further court appearances at the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday morning. Menges' attorney, Ryan Heintz, wanted to make sure the new charge would go through the preliminary hearing process just as the negligent homicide charge did.

"With the initial charge, it kind of throws everything out of whack as far as what had been done previously and what needs to be done now," Heintz said.

A pretrial hearing for Menges is set for Sept. 16 on Class B felony.

Menges was set for a plea change Tuesday, but that was altered to a status conference to address the new charge.

"I understand that at the time the plea hearing was scheduled, perhaps it was presumptuous but because of that, this matter we're referring to was taken off the trial and pre-trial schedule," Greenwood said. "It will very likely involve some time delay."

Menges has been residing in the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center since March, when he was arrested in connection with the November death of Freer, who was struck by a vehicle after midnight on Nov. 21 at the Queen City Motel on Villard Street in Dickinson. Freer was transported to Bismarck where he was pronounced dead.

Lead investigator Travis Leintz testified in court in April that Menges had admitted to drinking alcohol at Champs Sports Bar across the street before driving through the Queen City parking lot in November, where he encountered Freer and his dog.

Menges had said that he felt a bump as he left the parking lot, and didn't look back as he left for his Third Avenue West residence, fearing it was Freer's dog, Leintz said in April.

At a June 11 court date, Henning said that a plea agreement was close to being set for the negligent homicide charge.

Freer's family, who have filled the courtroom at previous events, were absent from Tuesday's proceedings, which lasted less than 15 minutes.

A Class B felony carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $20,000, or both. A Class C felony carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both.

In other court news:

Wayne Pauli, of Aiken, S.C., appeared before Greenwood at a pretrial conference at the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon in connection with a manslaughter charge stemming from a vehicular accident on a gravel road in eastern Stark County near Hebron in April.

Henning said that his office was close to finishing a plea agreement, which would most likely be ready before Pauli's Aug. 14 jury trial date.

"It's very possible that we'll have all of this settled, but we're not prepared to do it today," Henning said.

Pauli, 53, was driving a 1998 Ford F-150 pickup with Spencer Glen Rae, 26, of Lyman, Wyo., and Brett Byrd, 23, of Decatur, Ala., at 7:35 p.m. on April 3 when he lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve, according to a North Dakota Highway Patrol media release. No one in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt as it rolled. Rae was killed and Pauli and Byrd were injured and treated at St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck.

At the time, Pauli, who is represented by Kevin McCabe, was charged with DUI. The only charge currently pending is the manslaughter charge, a Class B felony.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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